Microsoft have launched a new homepage for their search engine, Live Search, which they claim has received positive feedback from customers in trials last month. The search engine now features a changing background image and “hotspots” that feature search queries related to the image displayed.
Hotspots are interactive areas of the image that light up and suggest search results related to the highlighted area. I’ve included a screenshot of the new homepage below together with the “hotspot” technology.
If you want to see the new page for yourself, you can visit the U.S. version of the live search homepage here. Non U.S. users may have to change their country to the United States in order to see these changes.
Webmasters should note that these changes are purely cosmetic, and Microsoft has not mentioned any update with regards to their search algorithm or ranking of search results.
Personally, I find the homepage to be a rip-off of Ask.com (see comparison below) with a distracting gimmick. To me, the sole purpose of a search engine is to connect users with information they’re looking for, so I can’t help but think that these “hotspots” will merely be a distraction along the way.
I’d rather see Windows Live Search with a clean simple design and work on improving their search quality. What do you think?