Microsoft had touted personalization as the big upside to its new Web search service, Windows Live Search, but the site that went "live" yesterday subordinates all that nifty functionality.
What's left is a home page that looks a lot like, well, Google.
A walkthrough of the service at BetaNews.com says that the potential to create "mashups" from little Web-based gadgets has now been shuffled a couple of layers deep in the personalization tools. They are still pretty nifty, from a consumer perspective (we added a feed for MSN videos to our personalized site -- won't make the company any money, but what the heck).
Most of the enhancements focus on image search, and they are smart, particularly a "scratch-pad" that lets you drag search results from multiple pages into a temporary collection. (Why Microsoft would not extend this functionality to all its search results, we can't say.)
The general knock on Microsoft search has always been that the results are a little dicey, and we haven't had the chance to compare Windows Live to the almighty Google "algo."
BetaNews reports that there's no formal word yet on how Windows Live will be employed in Redmond's battle with Google. We'd guess that Microsoft hopes its consumer-centric features build a little loyalty and generate more of the almighty page views that make Google virtually all its money.
And from a feature set point of view, Windows Live is certainly worth a look -- even though it will seem awfully familiar.