Another day, another MSN Search Beta Post

One last take on the MSFT vs GOOG search game…

MSFT investors reaction to Microsoft’s new search offering: YAWN….

GOOG investors reaction to Microsoft’s new search offering: BUY!

Lacking any obvious disruptive features, this beta roll-out could have been handled much better. Basically, a company press release screams to the world “Hey look at me, I’ve got something cool to show you!”.

So we all went to http://beta.search.msn.com and tried it out. Most people weren’t impressed.

How could Microsoft have done this better?

1. Scratch the press release. This only raised people’s expectations too high.

2. Assuming that you need people to use the search in order to make it better, set it up on a publically available website and leak the url to a couple of influential bloggers. Instruct your PR people to hold a hard line on the “We do not discuss unreleased products” position. Everyone will share the url, everyone will try it, some will like it, but expectations would be much lower so the user’s experiences would have a chance of beating the expectations.

3. Release the API to some influential developers. Let them use the search API behind the scenes.

4. As I said in my previous post, brand it better! “MSN Search” is sooo boring. Come up with a brand name that embodies why this search is better than the competition. One word, easy to “verbize”, etc.

5. It’s much better for it to be obvious, but as a last stitch effort, document (in a help file or FAQ) exactly _why_ your search is better. People are trained to query their favorite search engines, and the query formulation that gets the best results from Google might not get the best results from MSN Search. Tell me how to make your search work better for me.

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