Imagine Live Search – Microsoft’s Test Site Launches

Spotted via LiveSide, Imagine Live Search is a new experimental search engine from Windows Live. Like those from Ask (Ask X), Google (SearchMash) and Yahoo (Alpha), it provides a mixture of results all on the same page. Below is a look at Microsoft’s new test bed search engine, Imagine Live Search, as well as a comparison to the other test bed search engines from the other providers.

Imagine Live Search:

I figured I do a search for [george bush] and show you some of the features. Here is a quick overview of the page:


Let me go through each element:

The top left organic side of the page has the search phrase, the number of results, a news results box and then the organic listings:


That covers the left hand side of the page. Moving over to the right hand side. For this search, the first thing we see is “Try these other searches.” It looks like:


You notice that you can search for movies, local, weather and sports. What does this have to do with my search query? I don’t know. But if you mouse over those icons, they do expand a bit to give it that “web 2.0″ feeling.


Neat? I guess.

Now we are given “related searches,” which is fairly self-explanatory.


Next up is image search results for george bush. Here is a look at those:


Yes, if you mouse over, we get web 2.0 happy again. But this implementation is useful, because we get more data about the image.


Then we have a local map result, that seems to be targeted to me, since I am based in NY but not targeted to my search query.


You can zoom in and out of this map by mousing over it and using your scroll wheel.

Followed by the local map is an additional news box. Some of the news in this box replicates the news in the top left hand box. But this one, if you mouse over, you get a news bubble with more content.



That covers Microsoft’s new test bed search site for a search on george bush. Let’s now compare.

Ask X:

The same search, george bush, at’s test bed search site, Ask X. I am only going to post one screen capture and then explain it.

Ask X

Notice how Ask X placed the refinement options on the left. The left pane has a search box, the vertical search tab options, expand your search, narrow your search and related searches.

In the middle is the Smart Answer at the top, followed by organic results. All sporting nice mouse-over features.

On the right are more detailed vertical search options. But in this case, all are related to the search query, where the Microsoft version was not. We have images, news, shopping, dictionary and video results all refined to a search on george bush.

For more on Ask X see here.

Google’s SearchMash:

The same search, george bush, at Google’s test bed search site, Search Mash. I am only going to post one screen capture and then explain it.

Google's Search Mash

Google goes with a two pane approach, showing search results on the left hand side and the vertical results on the right. Each vertical result is enclosed in a expandable box. I have expanded most of them, minus the blog results.

The right hand side vertical searches are also all related to the search query, while Microsoft’s is not. We have image results, blog results, video results, and Wikipedia results. The video results will play within the search page, the others take you directly to the source page.

For more on SearchMash see here.

Yahoo’s Alpha:

The same search, george bush, at Yahoo’s test bed search site, Alpha. I am only going to post one screen capture and then explain it.

Yahoo Alpha

Yahoo goes with a two pane approach as well. On the left are organic results and on the right are vertical search results.

Like the other search engines, but unlike Microsoft’s, Yahoo only shows related vertical search results on the right pane.

We have Flickr photos, Yahoo Answers, Google owned YouTube results, News results, Wikipedia results and an interesting sponsored results box. I wonder why they enclose the sponsored listings in a box like that. Note, that Ask X has sponsored results at the top of the organic listings, SearchMash does not have sponsored results, and neither does Microsoft for this search query.

For more on Yahoo’s Alpha, see here.

Final thoughts: Looking at all of these test beds, you might wonder why they are different than Google’s Universal Search. With Google Universal Search, rather than show the results in different segments of the search page, Google says it will blend results into one list.

Related Topics: Ask: Ask X | Channel: Search Marketing | Google: Web Search | Search Engines: Experimental | Yahoo: Search


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Red_Mud_Rookie

    I’d be very interested to hear what, if anything, others are doing to track their Universal Search activities.
    It’s been hard enough finding a single tool that lets you report on both paid and natural search, but this opens a new can of worms.

    Any ideas?

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