Yahoo Tools Fate Undecided in Wake of Search Deal with Microsoft

If you are wondering what will happen to the Yahoo Search developer tools now that the Microsoft and Yahoo search agreement has been approved, Yahoo has a message for you: Stay tuned.

If you are wondering what will happen to the Yahoo Search developer tools now that the Microsoft and Yahoo search agreement has been approved, Yahoo has a message for you: Stay tuned.

As it did when the Microsoft/Yahoo search alliance was initially announced last July, Yahoo's Search team is saying the future of Yahoo Search developer tools like SearchMonkey and Yahoo BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) is up in the air.

In a Feb. 18 blog post, Ashim Chhabra, a lead product manager on the Yahoo Search team, said:

""With the implementation of the search alliance, the BOSS team is excited to examine the Microsoft Web, image, and video search technologies in more detail. Yahoo may continue to offer the BOSS service, which would integrate some Yahoo services and content with algorithmic results provided by Microsoft. The team is exploring what a future offering could consist of, with some services powered by Microsoft and unique content provided by Yahoo. As we finalize details for any changes to the BOSS service, we will give developers plenty of notice.""

Launched in 2008, Yahoo Search BOSS is a Yahoo Developer Network initiative to provide an open-search Web services platform. The primary goal of BOSS is to give developers free access to the Yahoo Search index. The results can be applied to the developer's Website or program so that they can manipulate the resources according to their product's requirements

Meanwhile, Chhabra said Yahoo is considering some method of monetizing the BOSS solution. "Prior to the announcement of the Yahoo! and Microsoft search alliance, we shared our intention to explore a fee-based structure for BOSS," Chhabra said in the post. "We continue to explore an appropriate revenue model as we work to define the future of BOSS in the context of our new search alliance. We know BOSS is important to your business, and any conclusions on strategic direction and roadmap for the service will be shared with developers as soon as possible."

Regarding SearchMonkey, Chhabra added:

""Yahoo and Microsoft are sharing ideas for how to advance the SearchMonkey vision of building an ecosystem for developers, publishers, and the semantic Web. The landscape is complex, so we're working hard to determine which path provides the best value for site owners and end users.""

Yahoo SearchMonkey is a Yahoo service that enables developers and site owners to use structured data to make Yahoo Search results more useful and visually appealing, and drive more relevant traffic to their sites.

Microsoft can certainly use these Yahoo Search developer tools technologies, but the software giant also appears to be uncertain about what it will do with the tools, if anything. Microsoft did not address the tools in a FAQ the company published about the Microsoft/Yahoo alliance.

However, according to a blog post from around the time of the initial announcement of the deal, Microsoft is likely to use the Yahoo technology. Said that post:

""'Until we can look at the (Yahoo search) code and understand it, we can't say specifically yet' what we intend to do, Mehdi [Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Senior Vice President, Online Audience Business Group] said. But it's more likely that Microsoft will be looking to make use of some of Yahoo's peripheral search technologies and projects, like BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) and Search Monkey, rather than doing any major shifts of algorithmic vision with Bing, he seemed to indicate.""

For his part, Chhabra also said Yahoo is looking into what to do with its Site Explorer technology, Yahoo Site Explorer enables users to explore all the Web pages indexed by Yahoo Search.

"Yahoo and Microsoft are working closely on how best to support the Webmaster community, and Yahoo will be reviewing the existing Site Explorer functionality and roadmap in light of the new search alliance," Chhabra said.