Microsoft chief denies new search project

Word on the street that Microsoft had a crack team of developers working on a search project is news to the company's head of search and advertising.

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Microsoft has denied rumours that it has a crack team of developers working on a search project.

"When they get it done, I hope they'll send me a link to it so I'll know about it," joked Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of Microsoft's search and advertising platform group, at the Search Marketing Expo in Seattle.

While Nadella denied any specific effort to build a new search engine, he did say that his group, a very young search operation compared to some other giants, would need to take risks in order to improve its position. Microsoft search is just over three years old and has about 10% of the market.

One way that Microsoft may work to improve its search ranking is by trying to use its position as a content provider. The MSN portal has around 500m unique users globally, and the group is trying to find ways to encourage them to use Microsoft's Live search.

The MSN A-List, is an example of that effort. The A-List is a page that shows top searches on Live search. In addition, the main Microsoft.com page only recently added a Live search bar.

Microsoft will also have to differentiate its search product from the others to get ahead, Nadella claimed. Offerings such as 3D maps as well as mobile and image search, could help the company gain users.

Longer term, Nadella wants to experiment with the search user interface.

Nadella's group will be more scientific when researching how customers use Live search, in addition to innovating on products. To figure out how to motivate existing clients to use Live search, Nadella wants more data including abandonment rates.

Microsoft has an uphill battle to fight. Its Live search trails by far Google, which has about half of the search market share. Yahoo, the second largest search provider, had a near 27% share in April, according to ComScore Networks.

Two executives have also quit the search group in recent months.

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