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the new MSN search: an unmitigated disaster

The first pointer I got to it was via Dave (Interestingly, there wasn't a Slashdot article on it--maybe I missed it, but I don't think so). There I went, to http://beta.search.msn.com/.

The home page loaded quickly, which was a good sign. I liked its simplicity, but I wasn't going to give them any points for copying Google.

Then I typed in a simple search: "microsoft", and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Two minutes later, I got this result.

That didn't look good at all. But who knows, maybe it was a fluke.

So I did it again.

Same result.

"Maybe they have deep-seated psychological problems that prevent them from returning their own results properly," I thought. So I tried "linux" (without success), then switched back to MS-themed searches with "microsoft visual studio," then started trying random queries.

Nothing worked!!

This lasted for about twenty minutes. I kept trying, because I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing (I have tons of respect for Microsoft's software development prowess). Then, when I was about to give up, I tried "microsoft" again, you know, just in case, and there it was.

One result. (Yes, one result, look at the screenshot).

Just one?

Just one.

Not only just one result, but also the response was "1-1 of 1", which must mean I've been asleep for a few centuries and now there's only a single page with the term "microsoft" in the planet. Also, note how there didn't seem to be any problems in finding ads for it.

"There goes nothing," I thought, and I tried "linux". Another fantastic one-query-hit-page.

In fact, it wasn't just that it was returning a single result, it was also that it was splattering the page with ads, at the top, at the bottom, and to the right. After those two, er, "successes," I tried a few more queries that returned no results at all, or worse, outdated pages! (weeks and weeks old).

And, in case you're wondering, I am not making this up. Those screenshots are real.

I could add a thousand things: that they should have added more hardware, or made sure that the thing worked before releasing it, or whatever, but I'm not fond of repeating the utterly obvious.

I will say, though, that there are two search engines I use at the moment, Google and A9. Occasionally, I use Teoma and Yahoo!.

And it doesn't seem that I'll be adding Microsoft to the list any time soon.

PS: if any Microsofties happen to wander through this entry and want to know more for debugging purposes, I ran my searches between midnight and 1:00 am PST (8:00-9:00 AM GMT).

Categories: soft.dev
Posted by diego on November 11, 2004 at 6:49 PM

new design time?

A few days ago Dylan changed the design for his blog, now Russ has changed it as well. For the last couple of weeks, whenever I want to relax (or use CSS infuriation as a distraction, depending on how you look at it) I've been playing with a new design based on a newspaper-like view, but it hasn't convinced me. I guess I'll add it as an alternate stylesheet and FireFox-enlightened users can switch it using the little gizmo that appears at the bottom-right of the window when a page has alternate stylesheets (have you noticed that one?). Maybe this weekend...

One thing though: new blog designs are always reinvigorating for some reason, even if many readers don't see them, courtesy of syndication. :)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on November 11, 2004 at 6:36 PM

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