There is a new choice for those of us who sift and scour through millions of sites just to find the one page we seek, and it comes from a surprising source.
Setting its sights onto a basic function of the Web, Microsoft is busy readying a new algorithmic search engine engineered to take on competitors such as Google and make relevant search results its number one priority.
After months of rumors and speculation, Redmond has cast aside the gossip and officially thrown its hat into the search engine arena, previewing a beta of its new MSN Search.
Microsoft Research is actively engaged in the project, which the company has promised will be staged on "an immense scale" playing to what it says is one of its core abilities.
"It's a huge commitment here," a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews. "Microsoft has a successful history developing technologies on an immense scale like this one - MSN Search is eagerly leading this challenge head on."
Microsoft cites a Forrester Report dated June 30, 2003 as evidence there is room for growth in the sector. The report concludes that most users of search engines are dissatisfied with the frequency of irrelevant search results.
To this end, Redmond has committed considerable resources to develop its technology entirely from scratch. Microsoft is also seeking to expand its ranks to fight the upcoming search wars; a catalog of MSN Search job listings is linked directly from the beta site.
Thus far, a Yahoo! style directory listing prevails on the search page below the input field. A rudimentary preview of advanced search options is also up and running.
When all is said and done, results will be peppered with marketing that is born out of MSN's holistic advertising solutions. To reap the benefits of its R&D efforts, MSN is offering advertisers traditional online ad placements, custom campaigns and placement as an MSN Search Featured Site.
The current generation MSN Search receives traffic in excess of 46 million unique users a month. When combined with the worldwide MSN network, advertisers have an audience of 350 million.
Microsoft is not alone in its drive to unseat search king Google. Yahoo! has announced intentions to refocus its business plan and cycle its efforts toward developing proprietary search engine designs, rather than continuing to license technology from the market leader.