Live Search is my primary search engine, for practically 90% of my web searches, and it does a good job and nails most results down correct. Yet, there’s some annoying things about Live Search such as the results it pulls up, limited feature set, and other quirks I want to mention.
So what are the things that really bug me about Live Search? Here’s my list:
- Irrelevant results – Sometimes, a bunch of weird sites show up and the target site I’m looking for is buried deeper into the results. Or obscure URL’s. For example, a search for Liveside has the first result as http://www.ditii.com.www.liveside.net . It should just simply be www.liveside.net, but it isn’t. The listed result does lead you to the real site, but has some horrible URL name for it. Just plain dumb. Search "Windows Mobile" and you’ll get many Windows Mobile-related sites, but not Windowsmobile.com. Or a search query such as "fenton phoenix hardy boys" should bring up one of my favorite made-up Hardy Boys story site, but it doesn’t. Google got it right on the first try however. That’s exactly why people will always use Google, because it gets the results down right practically 98% of the times. The site I want isn’t listed in Live Search. Just a few examples of how the relevancy in Live Search needs to be improved.
- Recognizing changes in the search box – Say for instance, that I do a web search for "kittens". Then I decide to do an image search for "Siamese kittens". I quickly add ‘Siamese’ in the search box, but when I click on Images, results only show up for "kittens". Obviously, Live Search doesn’t recognize recent changes applied to the search box as it switches between search verticals. However, I thought Live Search at one time, really did recognize changes in the search box as you switched verticals.
- Getting rid of the blue outline on search box – I remember that in the old Live Search, when you started inputting letters into the search box, a bright blue outline lit up the border of the search box. I thought it was a nice graphical touch, and loved it. I really miss it.
- Dropping Academic and Books Search – Not sure about the actual results, but I thought the way Live Search displayed the results of Academic and Books Search was VERY innovative for its time. Very AJAXy, and smooth. Looked very clean, and worked well. Too bad it had to go.
- NO way to turn OFF the daily Live.com background image – I actually like it, but I know not everybody wants to see this every time they launch their search engine page. The sad thing is, is there’s no way to turn it off. NO option, period.
- NO way to close the sidebar in Image Search – Another useful thing mysteriously removed from Live Search. You used to be able to have a page with just a bunch of images, and you could open/close the sidebar that displays your collections and filters. Now it just sticks there. I like it and all, but I want to have a view of just photos.
- Scratchpad area in Image Search is TOO SMALL – I liked the way everything was positioned in the old Image Search. Filter on the top row, and a big area for scratchpad in the sidebar. Now the Scratchpad is allotted a very small space, right under the filters and related searches. It’s hard to drag and drop photos around collections, reorganize the order, and all that. Instead, you have to use the mini scroll bar which is very annoying!
- Maps Search is weak – Maps Search is pretty weak, especially outside of the United States. For instance, during the 2008 Summer Olympics, I was searching for Olympic venues in Beijing, and the search couldn’t return ANY useful results. I was so angry. I mean, a lot of Microsoft’s divisions were pushing to the limit with Olympic content, and even many areas of Live Search, but not the Maps area. Which is quite important. There wasn’t even street/road information on Beijing! Google Maps does, but not Live Search Maps! I really like the technology behind Virtual Earth, and Live Maps tools, but the search really sucks. You have to be VERY SPECIFIC to get good results or addresses done.
- NOT enough search filters – Like on a Local Search, I can’t refine the list of businesses by ratings, # of reviews, closest in location, ones with websites, etc. Or on News Search, there aren’t archives by the decade (1950’s, 1960’s, whatever), or how recent (hour, day, week, month?), like the way Google refines its news search. And other areas. Search Filters really narrow and refine your results to exactly what you want. Some areas of Live Search are better at this though.
- Not enough innovation in web search – Sure, there’s a lot of innovation in the Image and Video Search, but the main thing that’s most important to users is web search. On the web search side, Live is just like any other search engine. Nothing too distinguishing that sets it apart except Instant Answers, which many people really don’t know about.
- Search box on Live.com isn’t centered right – I really wish the search box on Live.com was actually smack dab in the center. That’s where I generally expect the search box to be, and Live doesn’t do that. It’s stuck a bit higher and towards the left.
That’s where I see it fails. The main gist, is that the search results could be better, there needs to be more unique distinguishing features/tools that sets it apart from the other search engines, I want elements I missed from the old Live Search, and other minor things.
Tell me, do you use Live Search as your primary search engine? Is there anything you aspect where you think it fails? Add a comment and tell me.