CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Microsoft Corp. has no immediate plans to integrate the MSN desktop search application into its operating system, a company executive said at a conference here this weekend.
Speaking on a panel on search technology at the Harvard Business Schools Cyberposium, Mark Kroese, general manager of information services and merchant platform product marketing for MSN, said the federal antitrust battle Microsoft waged with the government has made the company think twice about what technologies it can add to the operating system.
"Working at Microsoft today vs. five years ago is different," Kroese said. "If anyone thinks the antitrust case hasnt slowed us down, youre wrong. If I want to meet with a products manager for Windows there needs to be three lawyers in the room. We have to be so careful, we err on the side of caution. We are on such a fine line of conduct."
Indeed, while including the MSN desktop search application in Windows might seem like a logical step to many, "theres no immediate plan to do that as far as I know," Kroese said. "That would have to be a Bill G. [Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates] and the lawyers decision."
Microsoft officials on Monday clarified Kroeses remarks, saying that the company will continue to offer a built-in search facility as part of Windows, as it has done for years, but there are no plans to integrate the MSN Toolbar suite, which includes the MSN desktop search technology, directly into the operating system. The MSN Toolbar suite is currently in beta.
Meanwhile, Bradley Horowitz, director of media and desktop search at Yahoo Inc, said, "We see an opportunity in helping users manage personal information, so our desktop search is about the users relationship to that information. So what desktop search allows us to do is create transparency about where that data lives, where it actually is. We see personal research as a place where Yahoo has a big advantage."
Herve Gallaire, chief technology officer of Xerox Corp. and president of the Xerox Innovation Group, said Xerox is taking more of an enterprise focus to search technology.
"What needs to be done is to be able to search all types of information sources in an enterprise," Gallaire said. "The Web is great, but its not enough to do your work."
Deep Nishar, a director of Google Inc., said, "Our mission is to organize the worlds information and make it accessible and usable."
Kroese said, "At Microsoft we look a lot more at adding innovation so revenues can follow."
One area of focus is local search. About 18 percent of searches are for local information, the panelists said.
"At Yahoo, we think of local search as an extension of vertical search," Horowitz said. "It reaches into a different business model and provides a tremendous amount of value."
Microsofts approach is a bit different, Kroese said. "At Microsoft our heritage is being a platform and our approach to search will not be a lot different."