When Greg and I were up at Microsoft a few weeks ago, we discussed the integration of search macros into the company’s Live Search Product, which will power MSN Search and Windows Live.
Yesterday, search macros were introduced on the MSN Search blog. Macros allow users to build advanced search queries and save them in a toolbar for future use. This includes the ability to give preference to certain sites, exclude sites and search for certain page characteristics.
Along with a handful of other new features, Windows Live is attempting to differentiate itself to gain market share on Google and Yahoo!. One challenge will be maintaining the user base and brand identity of MSN, while rolling out a new product and gaining market share with an overall user base that could be fragmented between the two. It will be an uphill battle for Microsoft to gain share on Google and Yahoo! (ComScore market share breakdown here ), but the strategy to create a differentiated set of new and interesting features is the right (or perhaps the only) way to do it.
An interesting feature of Macros is that once created, they can be published on a blog or elsewhere so others with similar interests can use them or plant them on their own toolbars. This is yet another integration of social media that seems to be happening everywhere. In this case it's smart because it could create new Windows Live users interested in using a macro that someone has created. This can only happen within the context of a social or community interaction where info is being shared within a community of similar interests, professional tracks or geographies.
More on social media to come, including some highlights from the social search panel at Drilling Down.