So I don't know if you recall in the past when I mentioned that I believed Live to be the branding where Microsoft planned on competing with Google. (See Virtual Reality - Microsoft Office Live). Well, we should look at some of the things that they are doing from the User perspective.
Nice and clean, free of advertising, and links to other Microsoft places of possible usefulness. It's very familiar, don't you think? Ever seen anything like it before from any other extremely successful search engines?
It would also seem that Live is now also searching websites and grouping together relevant results in what they are referring to as deep links. This is where they are saving a visitor extra clicks through a website by placing other relevant pages from recognized sites in a list beneath the home page and it looks like this, which resulted from my search for Orbitz...
First we have our adCenter Sponsored Advertising, and below that we have our Orbitz home page with a list of other valuable "go to" pages from the site which will save time and hunting for various links within the site. Also, down the right hand side, before the sponsored links pick back up again, there is a list of other related searches just in case you needed a different perspective of what you might be looking for.
Below is the very same search result from Google. No Sponsored Advertising to start off the page, but we do have the home page with a 2 column list of results from within the site, Sponsored links to the right, and no suggested alternative searches.
It's a little bit interesting to watch. Kinda like an art class - one object to render, 2 artists and 2 canvasses. (Actually, there are more artists and canvasses out there but these are the only ones that are showing the details of their object.)
Now, there are also the labs. Google has Google Labs where they showcase all of the cool and wonderful tools they are working on and getting loads of folks trying out simply because they are cool things, and Live - not yet.......BUT there IS Microsoft adCenter Labs, which mark my words, given more growth and time for the whole Live experience, will find it's way into the Live rounds of ammunition.
So, again, I submit, that regardless of whether or not Microsoft acquires Yahoo!, they are forging ahead with their plans to go toe to toe with their fiercest Search Engine Competitor, and I believe that they have the appetite to do it. To eat an elephant you have to go one bite at a time, but don't forget that the size of one's mouth and the sharpness of one's teeth can more often than not determine how hefty those bites may be.