The Live Search Engine is Microsoft’s upgrade for what used to be only the MSN search. The Live search engine is predicted to undergo even more enhancements so as to gain a greater share of the search engine market now dominated by Google. Of course the Live search engine has adequate search facilities but let’s take a look at some more of its interesting features:

The video search feature: Most search engines have the ability to search for videos however the Live search engine has a different sort of feature. When you do a video search, you are shown a panel with the thumbnails of the different videos matching your query. With the Live search engine, all you have to do is hover the mouse over the thumbnail of the video and it starts playing so you can preview.

Slider bar for re-sizing image thumbnails: This is one of the Live search engine features that makes it handy for image searches. Browsing for images can sometimes be a tedious process as web pages can only fit so many fixed-size thumbnails on one page at a time. With the Live search engine, you are shown a slider bar where you can zoom out on the image page thus reducing the size of the thumbnails. This allows you to fit more thumbnails on one page and reduces the need to do several next page/previous page steps.

Search macros: One of the features of the Live search engine that sets it apart from others is the ability to define search macros. A macro by definition is a sequence of steps used to arrive at some result that is recorded for later use. Live search macros are useful for saving those special search queries you used to arrive at the desired search results. Not only can you record your own search macros, you can use some of Live’s preprogrammed public macros too.

Windows Live Toolbar: Like other search engines, Microsoft offers the Windows Live Toolbar to integrate into your web browser providing a way to quickly access the search engine’s features. The problem with Windows Live Toolbar is that it can only integrate with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and above. It excludes other web browsers like Mozilla Firefox thereby excluding a significant number of users who prefer and exclusively use them. One interesting feature of the Windows Live Toolbar is its extending text highlighting functionality. When you are on a page and highlight items such as a phone number or an address, a menu appears where you can look up the map to the location, dial the telephone number, or get the weather at the location.

The Live Search browser plug-in: There is a browser enhancement that will work with Mozilla Firefox and that is the Live search engine browser plug-in. Installing this plug-in creates a search window in the browser but what is different about this one is that when you click on the left icon a drop down menu appears allowing you to pick several different sites to search. For example, you can choose to search EBay, Google, Yahoo, and others from this drop down menu.

The future: Microsoft has been for some time setting its sights on becoming an even greater competitor to Google and the search engine market. This is why the company put in a bid to take over and buy out Yahoo. With the acquisition of Yahoo, it will combine both search engines into one that leverages all of their strong features—especially the mobile features of the acquired company.

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