Michael Kanellos from CNET exposes some of the research at Microsoft to make search a greater part of its Windows operating system. The following are some interesting quotes from the article:
“Search in many ways is brute force,” Dumais said. “If the two of us type in a query, we get the same thing back, and that is just brain dead. There is no way an intelligent human being would tell us the same thing about the same topic.”
“Personalization was one of the big buzzwords of the early years of the dot-com era, but many of the efforts to deliver individualized content failed. Software developers, however, are increasingly becoming more adept at using Bayesian models and other probabilistic techniques to insert intelligence into software.”
“Although the underlying calculation in these models is complex, the overriding concept is fairly simple. Software keeps tabs on an individual’s Web surfing habits, interests, acquaintances, work and travel history, work projects, and other data. It also constructs a model that tries to anticipate what a person finds important and what will be irrelevant.”
“Microsoft’s experiments differ from commercial search engines in that the universe of data searched consists of data found on an individual’s hard drive.”
“In demonstrating Implicit Query, Dumais began to type an e-mail asking a colleague about a set of slides for an upcoming conference. Before the message was complete, the program–which appears in a window on the side of the screen– pulled up e-mails, slide decks and Word documents containing the name of the conference and the future recipient. Each hit came with a brief summary of the internal content, date, the type of software the file was written in, and its potential relevance, among other information.”
This is fascinating stuff and I can’t wait to see it in action.
However, based on the article it seems to me that Microsoft’s new search is focused on an enterprise that is still Personal Computing-centric, which is ideal today, but Longhorn is still two years away and it will be at least another year before we see it implemented within larger enterprises.
My concern is how applicable will a better PC-centric search be if personal enterprise computing finally becomes network-centric?
Albeit, we’ve all seen the rise and fall of the “Network Computer”, but I still believe in the underlying concepts that will end our intrinsic relationship with our dedicate hardware. Indeed, I’m talking about an environment where we will finally be able to productively “work” from any network-connected device.
Essentially, if in the coming years before Longhorn, a network-centric IT enterprise landscape becomes more widespread then the benefits of providing a better index to ones hard drive will be diminished.
Perhaps I’m being too close-minded and not including the bigger picture — especially with regard to Longhorn’s Indigo. I expect it’s more likely that Network and Personal computing will merge within the confines of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA); whereby applications and computing power will come to the user where and when they need it. Of course this must include access to “Stuff I’ve Seen”.
This essentially describes the holy-grail of Network Computing or rather a “Personal service-oriented architecture” as Jon Udell describes.