MSN Not Beating Google In Six Months

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After stirring up the search engine world with comments that MSN Search will be more relevant than Google in six months, Microsoft Europe president Neil Holloway backpedaled from his remarks.

MSN Not Beating Google In Six Months
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Too bad, really. The bold claim made by Holloway to an audience at a Reuters-hosted summit created plenty of buzz and commentary in various outlets. It followed the somewhat aggressive tone of Microsoft speakers at recent conferences regarding the company’s place in the search world, and it appeared Microsoft was ready to back up their various “quality not quantity” claims.

Holloway has stepped away from his comments now. He posted a response to a John Battelle post about reports on what he said. First, here is what Reuters, which just happens to be a major news organization, reported:

“What we’re saying is that in six months’ time we’ll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google,” said Neil Holloway, Microsoft president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“The quality of our search and the relevance of our search from a solution perspective to the consumer will be more relevant,” he told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit.

Now, Holloway has issues with “press reports and blogs attributing comments to me” as he wrote in response to Battelle:

I did not say that we would be twice as good as Google’. What I did say is that we are committed to investing in R&D aimed at providing a search service, initially in the US in six months, that performs better than the current industry wide standard of one in two urls being connected to the subject of the original query. I also said that our aim is to perform as good, or better, in that respect than Google. This is a long term goal. I did not put a date to it as this is work in progress.

He doesn’t say who quoted him as stating MSN would be ‘twice as good’, and there is no reason for anyone to have done so based on his original quote. Holloway also mentioned performing “better than the current industry wide standard” of search responses. With Google generally regarded as the industry standard in search, he could not mean anyone else.

MSN Web Search general manager Ken Ross tried to quiet the chatter a bit with a post in the MSN Search blog. He said, “we won’t try to predict the progress of our competitors and so we won’t forecast when we might take the lead.” That team is working on improving relevance, where Ross claimed “our customers report that we’ve made some great progress over the past year.”

So we’ll see where they are in six months. At least Holloway was not conceding the search market to Google and compelling people like Ross to defend his team’s ongoing work as Yahoo’s group had to do.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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