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Windows Live Search - How Does It Compare to Google and Yahoo?

written by: jeff•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/1/2009

Windows Live Search is definitely NOT Google! Is Windows Live Search as good as Yahoo? Is WLS a mere 4-cylinder in a land of V-8 engines?

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    Windows Live Search Overview

    Windows Live Search, found at, is Microsoft's “search engine” offering, intended to compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo. Windows Live Search (WLS) also can be found in the upper right-hand side of IE 7 and higher browsers. In addition to the built-in WLS in IE browsers, Windows Live Search also provides a search window on the Windows Live Toolbar. All these things combined lead one to believe that Microsoft once again desires to inundate the market with its own product; in this case, its search engine offering - Windows Live Search. Is it as good as Google or Yahoo search engines? How relevant are the results?

    WLS Ubiquity 

    Windows Live Search Features / Advantages

    • WLS is integrated with Microsoft's browsers IE7 and higher.
    • WLS also is integrated with other Microsoft products.
    • WLS is included in Windows Live Toolbar as a functional yet unobtrusive feature.
    • WLS appears to return results in within a reasonable amount of time

    Windows Live Search Disadvantages

    • Some returned search results appear too broad and vague and/or "duplicated."

    A Cursory Windows Live Search Comparison

    In a recent search example, Windows Live Search returned 126 million hits on the name "marco polo" (enclosed within double-quotes); whereas the same search on Yahoo yielded 26,400,000 results; and Google yielded 8,210,000 results. For WLS, no "search time" was displayed, but the 126 million results appeared to have been returned in about one-half of one second, which seems comparable to the .22 seconds quoted on both the Yahoo and the Google searches - both of which returned fewer results (thus they were expected to be take a shorter amount of time within their respective search engine code).

    Top 3 Hits on Each Search Engine, Using the Phrase "marco polo"

    • WLS - Marco Polo - Wikipedia, Biography and Travels
    • Yahoo - Wikipedia, Travels, Biography
    • Google - Wikipedia, Travels, Biography

    The general feeling then, is that WLS returns equivalent relevant top hits, but does not yet have the refined "duplicate reduction algorithms" which allow both Yahoo and Google to return a fewer number of results, which have been de-duplicated; thus the incredibly large number (126 million) of results returned by WLS.

    Yahoo WLS 



    Although Windows Live Search is practically ubiquitous now, when it is compared to the more mature search engines such as Google and Yahoo, it still lacks their level of maturity and it needs fine-tuning regarding the relevance of its returned search results. The bottom line is: “Windows Live Search” needs to become a more seasoned and mature product before it can effectively contend with its competition, acquire a larger portion of established market share, and a loyal following. All-in-all, though, it is not a bad first effort. Is it worth the effort? No – not at this point in time - but keep your eye on the "Redmond Giant" because, soon, Windows Live Search will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.


    Windows Live Search home page:

    A shortcut to disabling Windows UAC: