I've found that living life as an evangelist for Microsoft is generally an easy thing to do. Sometimes the work life balance isn't exactly where I'd like it to be, but for the most part the products and technologies we evangelize are truly great and our excitement and passion about them is genuine. In the past year I've found almost no Microsoft product or service I couldn't stand behind 100%, save perhaps search. Not that our search was bad by any stretch of the imagination, I just felt that a certain competitor of ours could return more relevant results in a noticeably shorter amount of time.

Even though I love the company I work for, I'll be the first to admit that I too was a bit skeptical when a message titled "New Live Search!" came across my desk. But as an evangelist, of course, I wanted to believe so I fired up a couple of browser instances and placed them side by side on my desktop. I loaded the 'new' Live Search on one and a competitors search on the other. I proceeded to enter queries I've submitted to the Live team as examples where we still had work to do and I clicked the search button in each. In an instant, Live Search rewarded me with some of the fastest and most relevant results I've seen.

Search after search I'd say our results were as good if not better than the competition. One of the queries I test with is my name in quotes, "Jared Bienz". In all the years I've used this as a test, I never realized that code I'd written for a CodeProject article years ago actually made it into the nAnt project. How cool is that? Even searching the competition for '"Jared Bienz" nAnt' didn't return a relevant result.

Now I'm not claiming our engine is perfect. In fact there were a couple of relevant results from the competition that either showed up later in Live Search or didn't appear at all. But the same is true the other way around. We're now returning results the other guys aren't. And we're doing it quickly too, which makes me happy as a Microsoft evangelist and makes Live Search the default engine on all the machines I use.

So next time you need to search, why not head on over to http://search.live.com and give it a second chance? You might just be surprised.

 

For information about what's changed in the engine (including quadrupling our index size) see: Microsoft Releases Updated Live Search Engine