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Microsoft May Use UIMA To Top Google

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-03-02

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A Microsoft Europe executive has provided some bulletin board material for Google, in claiming Microsoft will exceed Google in the search market in six months, based on being better able to retrieve specific information rather than just URLs.

Upon seeing reports like the one in the Times Online UK, we had to wonder if Microsoft president for EMEA Neil Holloway was discussing a Microsoft integration of UIMA into its search capabilities. Holloway told conference attendees in Paris that Microsoft will unveil a new search engine in Britain and the US in six months before unleashing it on the rest of Europe.

And it's going to make everyone forget about Google:

"What we're saying is that in six months' time we'll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google," said Neil Holloway, Microsoft president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"The quality of our search and the relevance of our search from a solution perspective to the consumer will be more relevant," he told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit.

But being good is not enough to win the hearts and minds of consumers already dedicated to another standard.

The last point echoes the long-ago battle between Philips and Sony over videotape format standards. Although Sony's Betamax won over fans with its superior audio, VHS became the standard through its broader acceptance.

Holloway noted that integration of that search will take place in some of Microsoft's popular programs:

Microsoft will put its search engine into its widely used communications tools Windows Messenger and Hotmail.

"Integrating search into those other applications ... makes it very seamless for people," he said. Timing in Europe will be pegged to that in the United States.

"The UK will probably be at the same time, France maybe three months behind, Germany maybe three months behind. It's not two years behind."

He said that Microsoft's goal -- but not its initial offering -- would go beyond finding URLs and instead focus in on the specific information sought by Internet users.

"Generally these days what you get back is URLs, and based upon research 50 percent of the time you do a search you don't get the URL you're looking for," he said.

The information focus sounds very familiar. IBM, the company that scares Microsoft more than Google, released its UIMA framework last year and made it freely available.

In an interview with Marc Andrews, director for strategy & business development for content discovery at IBM, he disclosed that IBM was focusing on concept as the operative function in search. More from that article:

Andrews noted how search solutions don't really go beyond web and file servers when it comes to spidering. "They've really ignored all of the enterprise knowledge that is being managed in their content management environment; that's being stored in databases supporting their different applications, and potentially even in mainframes."

Content discovery offers a more holistic view of data across the enterprise. "We've been focusing on enabling organizations to do a lot more than just search," Andrews said. "One of the major limitations organizations have today is they're limited to keyword-based search capabilities. That ends up falling short of most organizations' needs."

If Microsoft does come up with a better search, to achieve the goal Holloway stated, UIMA may be the mechanism they use to get there.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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