Windows Live Search Goes…Live.

Microsoft has released their flagship search engine to the world. It’s an important step for a company that has committed a lot if its energy to get into the ring with Google.
Will Microsoft’s search be good? Probably. As good as Google’s? Probably, eventually. Will users really stop using Google and start using Live Search? That’s the tough one. We can make a strong argument that the game is already over. That Google, left unchecked for nearly 5 years, has sunk its hooks real deep into our lives.
The inertia of deeply engrained habits is an extremely dififcult thing to undo. Just good enough is not good enough to do it. While people gawked over Google Maps, they still use Mapquest. I’ve played around with the various services they’ve put out. Without a doubt, their image search knocks the socks off of Google’s. Yet I still find myself consistently going back to Google’s image search.
Google has reached the Holy Grail of adoption. When a product fades into the background of your daily life because its so pervasive, the party is essentially over for the competition.
How can Microsoft unseat Google? I’m not really sure they can. It’s a big market and they’re probably going to be perfectly happy with a nice chunk of it. They do own the desktop (which Google is trying to redefine) and they will no doubt tightly tie their services directly to the desktop – bypassing the browser altogether. By dispersing the services away from the browser, Microsoft pulls Google into its battlefield. A battlefield that has seen other casualties.
Google Desktop is a pre-emptive strike against that battle in my opinion. It’s an early entry that has a two year head start on Vista. And I have to confess, it’s very good. Their search has been a huge time saver for me (especially with Outlook email).
It’s fun to watch all this go down. Google ain’t no Netscape. That’s for certain. They’ve got money and brains to give Microsoft a good battle here. In the end, we’ll all hopefully reap the rewards with better products and services.

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