It's hard to imagine ever calling Microsoft (MSFT) an ant in a world of giants. But when it comes to online search, Microsoft is that ant.
The software giant is expected to take on search Goliath Google (GOOG) as it shows off its new Web search engine next week at a technology conference, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
The idea is to better organize search results, so you don't spend as much time playing detective, wondering where the information you are looking for will be found.
Yahoo (YHOO) may be taking its search engine to a new level of clarity for consumers as well. On Tuesday, the company described plans to help boost its search product by showing customers exact data such as a phone number or an address, or a map or picture, instead of the blue-underlined, hard-to-decipher links that users now see when searching online.
In what amounts to taking the experience to the next level, such as when MS-DOS (short for Microsoft Disk Operating System) users began using Windows, search will become more intuitive, filled with graphics and maps or -- gasp -- just the thing you are looking for, rather than spitting back a series of clues that are hiding exactly what you desire underneath.
To get an idea of where internet search may be headed, check out search-engine love.com (which is owned by the same company, AOL, that owns DailyFinance).
Microsoft has been testing its new search engine, code named Kumo, for months, the Journal reported. The maker of the Zune music player and Microsoft Office software plans to promote its search product with a major advertising campaign.
No matter how many bells and whistles Microsoft and Yahoo add to their search engines or how much money they spend promoting them, they have miles of ground to cover to catch Google, which has about two-thirds of the search market. Yahoo has one-fifth and Microsoft has about eight percent, according to research firm comScore (SCOR).
Because Google is the behemoth casting a long shadow over search laggards Microsoft and Yahoo, the number two and three search companies are still eyeing a potential partnership, even after Microsoft failed to buy Yahoo last year, the newspaper reported.
Even if they joined together to take on Google, as Douglas McIntyre pointed out on DailyFinance, it's hard to change consumer habits. When folks think of looking for something on the Web, two out of three users turn to Google.
So that ant probably can't move rubber-tree-plant Google, which is whistling a different tune at the head of the pack.
Anthony Massucci is a senior writer and columnist at DailyFinance.
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