Microsoft Research Hones Search

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-10-18 Print this article Print

About 10 years of development work on information retrieval at Microsoft's Research division is culminating, with many technologies about to find their way into the search engine and the next version of the Windows client.

About 10 years of development work on information retrieval at Microsoft Corp.s Research division is culminating, with many technologies about to find their way into products.

Microsoft Research teams in Beijing; Cambridge, England; and Redmond, Wash., have been working on search for years. But, recently, the research and product teams have been working together to build that technology into the search engine and "Longhorn," the next version of the Windows client, which is expected to ship by the end of 2006.

"Whats new is the fact that for things like Web search, we now have a product group that we can talk to, whereas before, Microsoft wasnt focused in that area on the product side," said Rick Rashid, Microsofts senior vice president for research, in an exclusive interview at the Web 2.0 conference this month in San Francisco.

For the full interview with Rashid, click here.
Microsoft officials confirmed that the company plans to launch its desktop search product by years end.

Meanwhile, MSN is moving forward with plans to launch its algorithmic search technology. MSN plans to combine desktop search of e-mail messages and files with its Web search once both technologies are available. Whether that combination will occur when the desktop search product is launched remains unclear and depends on the timing of MSNs switch to its own Web search technology, also planned for as early as this year.

Some search experts such as Elizabeth Lawley, associate professor for the IT department at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, N.Y., who has previewed the Microsoft technologies, told eWEEK that Microsoft is clearly committed to building a killer search environment and has "a lot of very smart, interesting people working on it."

"The things we saw from [Microsoft Research] were among the most intriguing, but it remains to be seen how well-integrated into the final products those features will be and to what extent theyll retain their most interesting qualities if they do," Lawley said. "I think it will be critical that they integrate new ways of weighing value, particularly in a social context. If they can pull something like that off—combining social technologies and search technologies—that would be pretty compelling."

Next Page: Seamless searches.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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