MSN has announced a beta version of its new MSN Search service and Microsoft Corp. has also announced the Solutions Sharing Network (SSN).
The MSN Search service is designed to provide consumers with more useful answers to their questions and more control over their search experience. The global beta version of MSN Search is available immediately for public use in the United States at http://beta.search.msn.com, and worldwide in 26 markets and 11 languages from local MSN Web sites.
MSN Search offers consumers features such as: Direct answers--users can ask the search engine a question (What is the capital of Turkey?) and receive the answer (Ankara) from Microsoft Encarta. Answers are provided in a number of categories, including definitions, facts, calculations, conversions, and solutions to equations. Direct actions--when consumers type the name of an artist, song, or album, they get linked directly to music and other content provided by MSN Music where they can sample music, purchase it, and download it. Content-specific searching--to help consumers quickly get to the information they are looking for, MSN Search enables them to search for specific information using search tabs such as Web, news, and images.
Microsoft designed MSN Search to allow consumers to control and refine their searches through the use of pull-down menus and other customization tools such as: Search Near Me, which enables consumers to receive search results tailored to a geographic location and Search Builder, which allows users to customize search results by emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain search criteria, such as specific sites or domains, countries, regions, or languages. A complete version of the new search service is slated to launch early next year.
Microsoft's Solutions Sharing Network (SSN) is a global initiative that is intended to provide an online, community-based capability to promote increased communication, deeper information exchange, and collaboration among government organizations, academic institutions, and other public sector agencies. SSN enables Microsoft's global public sector partners and customers to share their IT solutions, architectures, best practices, application source code that the governments own and have contributed to the project, and research to increase efficiencies and reduce long-term development costs.
Deployment of SSN has already begun and involves collaboration with governments, organizations, and universities including the Communauté de communes de Parthenay (French municipality of Parthenay), Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund (German Association for Towns and Municipalities), United Nations Development Programme's Information Communication Technologies for Development in Arab Region (ICTDAR project Cairo, Egypt), Municipality of Deventer (Netherlands), the U.S. National Association of Counties (NACo), Swedish SAMSET project, UNESCO, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (South Africa), London Borough of Newham (United Kingdom), Local Government Computer Services Board (Ireland), School of Policy Planning and Development University of Southern California and the Department of Informatics, University College of Boras, Sweden.
Microsoft is delivering SSN to help increase operational efficiencies and help lower the costs of egovernment. SSN is focused on community, collaboration, and research and development. A hosted, cataloged repository of knowledge, the initiative will allow government agencies and public sector organizations to collaborate and share solutions, architectures, best practices and application source code that the governments own and have contributed to the project. A typical SSN environment will include: a Web-based portal allowing access to hosted knowledge and solutions, an open forum for public sector partners to contribute and showcase their solutions and capabilities, and mechanisms for searching, rating, and cataloguing the best discussions and solutions.