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Microsoft delivers search engine beta for MSN

Licenses the Inktomi engine

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Microsoft has made available for testing the beta of a search engine for MSN.com. Like AOL, CNET, HotBot, Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo amongst others, Microsoft has licensed Inktomi's engine. The search engine was developed under an ARPA contract at Berkeley by Eric Brewer, who went on to license the technology and name his company after a legendary Lachute Indian character. Wired Ventures was the first customer in 1996 for its HotBot engine. The problem that Inktomi now faces is that its customers get practically identical results, so the company is devising ways to allow them to differentiate their offerings. Microsoft's beta site at search.msn.com has a primitive choice of dates (the last week, or month, or year). In a couple of unscientifically conducted tests, AltaVista gave better results, and allowed any range of dates to be specified. At present, Microsoft offers four search engines, and has evidently not yet decided whether to continue offering these. Microsoft says its objective is "to be the fastest, easiest . . ." but there is some way to go. Microsoft also says it plans to integrate a directory system similar to Yahoo's. ®

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