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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 12:10 GMT
Search wars - which is the best?
As Microsoft enters the internet search engine market, users find themselves overwhelmed with options. We compare the big players on five key areas.

Google

MSN

A9

Yahoo!

Ask Jeeves

The verdict

The test

  • First a search for "raleigh" - chosen as it is a word with several meanings including the bike company, the US city, the expedition charity and the Elizabethan explorer.
  • How fast? Although engines can be slowed down by problems in receiving networks, searches made within minutes can give a comparison.
  • Then how did it look and could it tell us an Alsatian's IQ (reportedly 60 - whether this is true or not is irrelevant). Finally, the simple question - what is the time in Sydney?

MSN

RELEVANCE

"This site is temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon." After some teething problems, MSN gave nine million results with a significant difference emphasis to Google and Yahoo!.

There was no sign of Sir Walter anywhere and the charity was languishing on the third page, beyond what most users are prepared to trawl through.

There is the option of adjusting the results with a snazzy slider in the search builder tool, so you can widen or narrow the results. But no grouping together of the different references.

The "Near Me" option which is meant to localise the search came back with no results.

SPEED

Pipped Google with 0.92 seconds.

THE LOOK

Very clear front page but there are sponsored links along the top and the right-hand side of the results page.

THE OBSCURE FACT

What's the reported IQ of an Alsatian? Who knows?

THE QUESTION

What is the time in Sydney? I'm still in the dark because as with Google, it directs me to a site to tell me.

MSN has built in a direct question facility but obviously struggles with times. It can answer what is the capital city of England, but not Scotland.




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