Microsoft Relaunches Search Engine Demo

Microsoft is once again allowing beta testers to jump the velvet ropes surrounding its MSN search engine. Microsoft's Internet search division has opened up a second preview, offering a glimpse into the sweeping changes changes that have been made since phase one of the test was suspended in August.

As first reported by eWeek, Microsoft has retooled the engine's advanced algorithms and thickened its hips with a Web index that is roughly five times stouter than before. The search engine was released in the United States on Monday, and according to reports, will gradually go live in 29 other markets by Thursday.

Microsoft first showed its hand in February of 2004 when it previewed the technology and vowed to make search "a huge commitment" that will be carried out on an "immense scale" using all of its available resources. To that end, MSN has drafted Microsoft Research for assistance, and has been actively seeking experts from the labor market.

The cusp of Microsoft's plan to edge its way into the market centers on providing search results that are more relevant than the competition. Having in excess of 46 million unique users visiting its MSN Web properties each month doesn't hurt either.

Another component of Microsoft's search strategy includes providing customer with inventive new ways to find news and information. One such example is Newsbot. Newsbot is a search engine tantamount to an electronic newsstand that allows customers to sift through more than 4,800 worldwide news sources. The engine recommends breaking news stories to users based their viewing habits.

Newbot is a deliverable and can be found on MSNBC.com.

MSN has also created Blogbot, a search engine that spiders the Web for blogs to produce relevant search results. Another project known as MSN Answerbot will remain in the MSN search vault until well after other ongoing projects are completed. Answerbot provides an Ask Jeeves like natural language interface, phasing out keywords.

That said Microsoft also has some non-traditional technologies lying in wait. In June, Microsoft hinted that it will combine Web and desktop searches. At a recent demo, Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdie teased audiences with a new search engine that is integrated into MSN Toolbar add-on.

Although Microsoft will not commit to a specific release date for MSN Search, a spokesperson told BetaNews to expect a final version within a year.

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