Microsoft’s Social Search Plans & Eurekster
Microsoft’s MSN is planning on the launch of a social search and question-and-answer service which is bound to try and compete with Yahoo’s MyWeb and Answers. Aaron Wall points to a BusinessWeek article dubbed Microsoft Gets Social which centers around MSN’s social media plans.
“Microsoft plans to unveil a question-and-answer social-search tool in the coming months, says Justin Osmer, senior product manager for MSN. The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends, rather than to get automated lists of results from a generic search engine.”
In the article MSN’s Osmer also adds that Microsoft research has shown that generic search can’t answer 50% of the inquiries asked, and that the new MSN Social Search will be “one of the larger projects” for MSN Search.
The article also states that Microsoft is in talks to purchase Eureka, which is a social search pioneer that launched their product way ahead of its time.
“Eurekster essentially combines generic search, though a partnership with Yahoo, with information culled from social-networking sites, such as Friendster.com. Thanks to Eurekster’s technology, a Friendster user searching for “skin care” would get results that reflect reviews and preferences of a predefined group, be it friends, neighbors, or another affinity group — say pregnant women.“
Back to Threadwatch, Aaron lists these reasons why he thinks social search is overblown:
* As people get better at pointing people exactly where they want to go the ads near that content become less appealing.
* Many people are embarrassed to show their ignorance in front of large groups. Some may feel that even asking questions makes them look silly.
* Most high value questions that can’t be answer by text on the web already are going to be at least somewhat sensitivity or confidential in nature.
My opinion is that the social media structure is working so well for Yahoo that it is only natural for MSN to want a piece of the pie – especially since MSN’s network is so comparable to Yahoo in terms of everyday registered users and demographics. MSN is to Yahoo and Live Windows is to Google.
With the existing platform of the ever popular MSN Spaces under their belt, harnessing that power to evolve Spaces into more of a social atmosphere and applying the technology and know-how of Eurekster to the formula should bring a search enabled nucleus to the MSN community.
Furthermore, unlike MyWeb, Eurekster and other forms of social search, a question-and-answers offering is concrete and tangible for MSN members to get them excited and active in the sharing of information.
Let’s just hope that MSN puts some sort of spin on their “larger” project to differentiate it from Yahoo, and please please do not call it MSN Answers.