Microsoft is working on a new kind of “instant answer” option for its Live search engine. We have a few questions.
The feature, detailed in a recent Live Search blog posting, is designed to give you answers right on the results page, without your having to click through to an external site. “Quite a few” such answers already exist within Live’s results, Product Manager Theo Vachovsky indicates, and more are on the way.
The innovation — which, by the way, is already available on both Google and Yahoo — is Microsoft’s latest attempt to get people to use its search product. You may remember its other recent tactics, including the desperation-reeking SearchPerks reward system unveiled a month ago and the CashBack deal (better known as the “we will actually pay you to use this service” campaign) attempted earlier this year.
So far, the efforts seem to be working wonders: Live commands a whopping 8.3 percent of the search market, compared to Yahoo’s 19.6 percent and Google’s 63 percent, according to recent ComScore numbers. Even better, it’s actually lost users since beginning these promotions. Microsoft search traffic has fallen 1.5 percent since the start of the year, compared to Google’s continued growth.
Nevertheless, I was willing to give the new “instant answer” idea a try. I surfed over to Live to see how it worked.
First query: “Why doesn’t anyone use this search engine?”
No instant answer. Damn.
Next: “Why does this search engine pale in comparison to others?”
Still no instant answer. Damn.
One more: “Why can’t Microsoft figure out that gimmicks aren’t going to get people to use an inferior search service?”
Strike three. Instant answer, instant disappointment. Oh well. There are always more bribery-based incentives to be tried down the road.