Who’s really in charge of search tools at Microsoft?

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Who's really in charge of search tools at Microsoft?

Redmond (WA) – Yesterday, we reported on Microsoft introducing something which co-president Kevin Johnson referred to as “Windows Live Search,” which is being described as a single point of access for Microsoft search facilities. Those facilities, according to the company, include Windows Desktop Search and a feature of the Windows Live service which also happens to be called “Windows Live Search.” This led us to wonder – aloud – whether there could be multiple divisions of the company essentially working with the same goals in mind, if not on the same project.

Our story caught the attention of Brandon Paddock, a developer recently with the Windows Desktop Search team, who just a few days ago joined the team responsible for the product Johnson referred to. In his team’s Find My Stuff blog which just went live yesterday, Paddock addresses the subject of what appears to be a duplicate name.

“What’s the story here? It’s simple really,” Paddock writes. “We think it makes sense that our search offering falls under the same umbrella as Windows Live Search. However, we’re still fairly early in the development of our product and we’re still working out how our Windows Live Search client gets named and rolled out. So in short, expect our naming strategy to make a lot more sense when we get closer to shipping the beta!”

Separately, Paddock wrote TG Daily to say our information on the various Microsoft search products and their respective divisions was a little off. After stating that branding for “Windows Live Search” may not represent the final name of the product he’s working on, he stated that it is “not an Enterprise-only product.”

This despite the following language from Microsoft’s announcement yesterday: 

As part of the broader enterprise information management strategy, Microsoft is developing an enterprise search solution that provides a simple, secure, single point-of-entry for searches across corporate networks, desktops and the Internet…To that end, the company will deliver a solution called Windows Live Search, which offers a single user interface (UI) to help people find and use all the information they care about from across the entire enterprise and beyond.

Paddock went on to point out that Windows Desktop Search, which he co-developed, emerged from beta over a year ago. We did state yesterday that this product was in beta. Depending on how you look at it, it is, as this posting of the 3.0 beta of the engine component seems to indicate. However, we’ve been caught between varying interpretations before; and indeed, Desktop Search is available for download as one of those Windows components that doesn’t actually get shipped with Windows. Meanwhile, the Search service of Windows Live did enter a public beta cycle last March.

Finally, from someone who should know for whom he works, Paddock told us that the “Live Search” product he’s working on now, and the existing Windows Live Search, are in the same division of the company, though not under CTO Ray Ozzie’s purview as we reported. While we have no wish to dispute this, it is often Ozzie who Microsoft trots out to represent Windows Live Search, and other Windows Live services. Also, following a report last March where we reported on a realignment of projects, a Microsoft PR spokesperson contacted us to correct our data – which we did promptly – to state that newly reassigned senior vice president Steven Sinofsky would oversee the development of Windows Live services under the close supervision of Ray Ozzie.

We need an enterprise search tool to sort this all out.