Microsoft Loses About 5% Search Share in 2 Years

    March 23, 2007

Ever since Microsoft launched its own search engine, we’ve heard their claims that they’d gain ground on Google and compete in anywhere from 3-5 years.

Well, as Business Week points out, in the two years since Microsoft dumped Inktomi, it’s not exactly headed in the right direction.

In February, 2005, Microsoft’s MSN Search accounted for nearly 14% of all Web searches, compared with a 46% share for search leader Google, according to research firm Nielsen//NetRatings. Just two years later, Microsoft’s rebranded Windows Live Search has a 9.6% share, compared with Google’s nearly 56%. That amounts to nearly 300 million lost searches per month. The sense that Microsoft is slipping was reinforced with a recent shuffling of top executives.

Not helping is MSFT’s decision to play around with the MSN brand and introduce all manner of “Live” labels to its internet products.

…Microsoft muddled its message in November, 2005, when it launched the “Live” initiative designed to turbocharge Web services, including search, with programs running on PCs. But Microsoft continued to use the MSN prefix on some Web sites, such as its portal and shopping page, while using Windows Live for its e-mail and search services.

Also, not helping? Their search technology pretty much sucks. While it’s nice to blame the brand change for the loss in market-share, it really comes down to the quality of the search results. Apart from their image search, I’ve never found Microsoft’s search technology – btw, even I don’t know whether to call it MSN, Windows Live, Live Search, Windows Search – to be of any great value.

BTW, something else curious from the BW piece…

Steve Berkowitz, who was hired last May to rev up the Web business as senior vice-president for Microsoft’s Online Services Group, declined to comment.

Declined to comment? Business Week runs an article on your search efforts, and the guy in charge refuses to talk about it? Maybe they need to keep on shuffling the executive deck of cards, until they find someone with enough, you know what, to face the music and tell us what’s going on, and what they’re doing to right the ship.