Kind of a funny headline, “Live Search Now Live” but in reality, Microsoft’s new search platform dubbed Live Search has been in beta for quite a while now but as announced today is now live for all the world to see and use. Microsoft has been testing, accepting user feedback, iterating and testing more since March but now has release their new search platform both at Live.com and MSN.
So what’s new if you haven’t had the opportunity to test the beta version?
- A clean, custom interface – The new interface updates not only the colors and fonts of the service, but the design and layout as well. The new scope bar enables you to see search results from the Web, images, local maps/directions, videos, etc without having to re-enter your query in the search box. The scope bar remembers your most recent scopes like Video or Academic so your search experience will feel very personalized.
- Related Searches – Helps you refine your query by simply clicking on a list of related terms.
- Image Search – Delivers a new rich experience tailored for the task of searching for pictures. It includes: Smart Scroll, which gets rid of pagination; meta data surfaced by hovering over an image vs. having words clutter up your results; dynamic image resizing; related people lists that are addictive and lastly a scratch pad for images since most people searching on images want access to multiple images and this is a quick and easy way to save your results to access them later.
- Local Search – This release provides new or updated imagery for 25 U.S. cities, meaning MSN is covering about 30% of the U.S. population now. There are also some new additions to collections and access to White Pages data.
- Live QnA beta – If Web search doesn’t answer your questions right away, get the answer from real people! Live QnA is particularly powerful due to its tight integration with other Live social services, like Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces.
- Video Search beta – Can be found under the “More” tab in the scope bar along with a host of other beta verticals like Academic and Product Search as well as links to Live Macros where you effectively create your own search engine, or browse ones created by others in the community.
Chris Sherman does a nice review over at SearchDay. Jeremy Zawodny also offers his comments at his blog. I haven’t had a chance to play with it myself but generally hear good responses thus so far.