Actual mail I sent relatives on Live Search

Ok, this technically can’t be SPAM because it’s not commercial.  Right?  RIGHT?  Ok, take it any way you want Smile

For the last year I’ve been using Windows Live Search rather than Google to do most of my searching.  Call it company loyalty, or a desire to help out the search team here (since I regularly give them feedback on searches they do a poor job on), or even self-interest (since my compensation is influenced by Microsoft’s Search share).   Until now I’ve been reluctant to encourage family and friends to use Live Search because, frankly, it sucked.  But a few weeks ago they started rolling out a new release and now I think it is generally better than Google.  I’ve gone from preferring the Google result 80% of the time to preferring the Live Search result 80% of the time.  And it’s not just general web search that has improved, it’s that they focused on making specific kinds of searches work better and creating a better experience around others.  For example, searches for Videos.  I showed this cool thing to a friend just the other day.  If you use Live Search to find a video you can hover your mouse over the search results and it will play a short clip in-place.  So you can quickly see if that video is of interest to you before you click through to Youtube (or better yet, Soapbox.msn.com) or wherever to watch one.  Most of you probably don’t search for videos very often, but little things like this are sprinkled throughout Live Search at this point.

Today they rolled out the final parts of the so-called “fall release”.  One of the interesting new things is a free Directory Information (411) service that uses a voice recognition system connected to Live Search.  You just call 800-225-5411.  Perfect for saving on those expensive 411 calls on your cell phone.  I tested it on my favorite 411 call, for Boriello Bros. Pizzeria in Colorado Springs.  Yes, I am apparently too dumb to put the number in my address book and call 411 every time we are driving down there so we can get their number to pre-order our pizza.  It worked like a charm.

Here are the things they rolled out today:

Local Search and Mapping Enhancements (can be accessed via www.live.com maps tab or directly from maps.live.com)

· Innovative driving directions. The new Live Search offers more accurate and easy-to-use driving directions, including dynamic rerouting of directions based on real-time traffic information, one-click directions that allow drivers to get only essential directions to their destination with no starting point needed, and inline hints that tell drivers if they have gone too far based on local landmarks. Combined with new, one-page printing, these new enhancements have taken driving directions to the next level.

· Innovative visualization and 3-D.  Live Search has increased its coverage of bird’s-eye and 3-D imagery and now includes 80 percent of the U.S. population.

· Innovative local content index including user-generated content. Live Search now includes broad access to user-generated content from Live Search and from across the entire Web.

Mobile Enhancements (can be accessed via m.live.com from any phone)

· Live Search for Windows Mobile with voice input. The updated Live Search for Windows Mobile now includes voice input (beta version), gas prices, and hours of operation for businesses.

· Live Search 411.  Live Search now has a new toll-free number, users can simply dial (800) CALL-411 (800-225-5411) and say the city and state, then ask for the business or business category to hear a list of options. Users say “Connect me,” to instantly connect to the business.

· Live Search for use with BlackBerry® Devices. Live Search designed for use with BlackBerry devices is in beta.

So you can guess why I’m writing this!  Please try using Live Search (http://search.live.com)  instead of Google.  Even better, make it the default search engine for your browser and install the Windows Live Toolbar (http://toolbar.live.com).  If you find things you don’t like let me know and I’ll pass them along to the Search team.

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