Microsoft says it still believes that it will eventually turn the tables [on Google] by improving the quality of its search results and by changing the way computer users search.John briefly mentioned efforts by Susan Dumais and others on personalized search in his article.
Search in the future will look nothing like today's simple search engine interfaces, [Susan Dumais] said, adding, "If in 10 years we are still using a rectangular box and a list of results, I should be fired."
Mary Jo Foley also covered the event. An excerpt on personalized search:
Rico Malvar ... head of ... MSR [in Redmond] ... focused on how machine-learning principles can help customize contextually search results.A transcript of Rico Malvar's keynote is available.
Malvar described Microsoft's view of "evolving, personalized search," where search engines will be able to better "disambiguate things based on what you are working on."
I also enjoyed reading Don Dodge's thoughts on TechFest. An excerpt on personalization:
By building an index of documents, emails, and previous searches it is possible to create a personal profile that will help filter and rank search results for better relevance.It was not entirely clear to me from the coverage, but the personalized search based on desktop files sounds a lot like the 2005 work by Jaime Teevan, Susan Dumais, and Eric Horvitz (discussed in this old August 2005 post). I wonder what was different about the work that was demoed this year.
This is an artificial intelligence system that learns your interests and preferences, and constantly updates its algorithm based on your choices.
In this way it is not necessary for the user to change their behavior or search style in order to improve results.
See also my April 2006 post, "Using the desktop to improve search", which discusses how several projects at Microsoft Research may be able to be "combined, refined, finished, and moved into the Windows desktop" to create "an experience impossible to reproduce in a web browser, a jump beyond the 1994, one-box search interface we still live with today."