Following on from my last post on "Why do normal people not use Live Search?", I think I might have found the answer. I'm not convinced "non techies" have heard of Live Search. I asked a couple of folks yesterday who don't work in IT. They have heard of Google, they have heard of Yahoo, they have never heard of Live Search.
Now I did surmise yesterday that for normal searches that Google, Yahoo and Live probably return a result set which are similar (or good enough), so these days it doesn't really matter so much which search engine you use (for normal searches). This of course was not always the case hence why most people moved to Google and stuck to it.
So If I was Microsoft how would I tackle Google? I think I might take a leaf out of Apple's book and go for the cool factor. However this requires lots of marketing, imaging and branding (probably still cheaper than buying Yahoo however).
Also I think the stuff that is really great is things like the near real time statistics as part of the results, e.g. if you search for a sports team you get the last result, next game etc. Try and save folks that extra click. I would maybe focus in on that stuff.
I would probably take a 2 prong approach try and convince Techies and Normal folks independently, as the reasons for using Google are very similar (historically) but very different (now). A cool brand is not going to convince techies that they should switch to Live for their technical searches (results matter in this case), just as much as good result sets (unless they are dramatically different i.e. basically a brand new way of doing things) are not going to convince non techies (as the results are generally good enough) so you need to give them something else. I personally think that something else is UX, Image and Brand.
One real opportunity is to make use of the work they did with Tafiti to look at different methods of search.
Silverlight provides a real opportunity to provide a UX that Google will find difficult to compete with. Isolated storage to store previous searches, different visualisations on searches, the list is endless.