MSNs Search Beta Hits Hiccups

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-11-11 Print this article Print

The search-engine test overcomes some outages during its first day. Meanwhile, InfoSpace updates its Dogpile meta-search service.

In its debut, the MSN Search beta ran into a few technical glitches. Microsoft Corp.s answer to Web search was unavailable for some users during a portion of Thursday morning, though a spokeswoman said the problem was not widespread and had been fixed by afternoon. Webloggers first reported encountering server errors as they attempted to test the new search engine. The beta site is running simultaneously with MSNs main search site, which continues to retrieve its results from Yahoo Inc.s Web index.
Click here to read more about the MSN Search beta.
The MSN Search team reported the technical hiccups on a blog it launched earlier this week. Oshoma Momoh, general manager of MSN Searchs program management, wrote that the team expected to find some problems with the beta and encouraged users to report issues. "In the process of making our new MSN Search beta broadly available, we experienced some technical difficulties that caused the beta service to function improperly or be unavailable for some users for periods of time," he wrote. Andy Beal, who runs a popular search blog called Search Engine Lowdown, said that MSN will need to improve its search engines availability before it can compete effectively against search leader Google Inc. He found the beta unavailable for about an hour early on the launch day. "Whatever servers theyve got it on, they better not be the ones its on for the [full] launch," Beal said. Microsoft throughout the year has promised to unveil its own search technology within 12 months. Now, following the beta release, MSN officials are saying to expect a complete switchover in 2005. In other Web search news this week, InfoSpace Inc. updated its Dogpile meta-search service. On Wednesday, it launched Version 5.0, which included a new technology called "IntelliFind." IntelliFind attempts to decipher a searchers intent based on an analysis of anonymous logs of past searches and clicks, said Melissa Turtel, a senior product manager at Bellevue, Wash.-based InfoSpace. The technology also narrows searches by comparing search terms to a set of keyword-category associations. Dogpile draws results from leading search engines such as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Ask Jeeves Inc. With the update, it is adding sources for vertical content. These sources include news content from and audio and video results from Singingfish, a search engine owned by America Online Inc. Dogpile plans to add additional vertical sources in 2005 for such areas as digital cameras, business directories and movies, a spokesman said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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