This just in: Microsoft’s flagship search engine unveiled a new home page interface that will include rotating background images with embedded “hot spots” that direct users into various vertical searches when moused over.
This is essentially a visually driven discovery engine for various topics of interest. Live Search now more explicitly blends search and discovery — a classic interplay in online media. No word on whether it will be targeted in any way toward specific users (behaviorally, contextually, socially) as some popular discovery engines, like StumbleUpon, do.
It very well could, as the LiveSearch blog repeatedly states that this is a “starting point” (perhaps double meaning of a search engine home page and a foundation for more product development).
“We think the new design is a great start,” it reads, “but there’s more to come, with lots of interesting directions that we’ll be exploring in our next releases of the home page.” (My money is on video integration.)
This comes one day after Google Maps’ redesign, but is a decidedly more aggressive transformation (and not exactly a parallel product). More notable, it follows a recent line of moves by Microsoft to differentiate itself among core search engine competitors.
The thought is that it isn’t going to gain market share on Google by just doing the same thing (search box, 10 blue link SERPS, etc.). This transformation recently has included its Cashback program, Search & Give and its acquisition of Powerset, and we’ll likely see many more as Microsoft pushes hard on differentiation.