Microsoft has been firing up its PR machine really hard lately. Not that there's been a time when it let up, but it's been particularly critical of Google in the past month or so.It seems Google is scared that Microsoft may actually be convincing some people since it's ramping up its own PR efforts with a lengthy piece in the Wall Street Journal about how it's going to start offering "answers" now rather than just "10 blue links."
The report says that the "changes to search are among the biggest in the company's history." Apparently, Google has finally realized that people don't just want links, they want information.
Of course, that's something that Microsoft figured out a long time ago, leading some to say that Google is now following Bing's lead.
It could seem like Google, the dominant player got comfortable with its lead and allowed smaller competitors to innovate while it sat counting its money.
Except, none of this is true. Google has been serving "answers" for years, in various forms, from weather widgets to algebra answers. It can "tell" you who invented the telephone and which is the highest mountain in the world.
It can even tell you when sporting events take place, when movies debut or whether your local pizza place is open.
This isn't some innovation, it's been around for years and Google has been adding more info all the time. Bing is doing the same of course, but there's no significant difference or lead and Bing certainly hasn't been doing something that Google is only now starting.
What may be true though is that Google is ramping up efforts in this area. Structured data has been a focus at the company for a long time, Google Squared may be gone, but the technology behind it is now built into the main search engine.
And it seems like Google is getting ready to unveil a big breakthrough in this department but, while the improvements may be noticeable, it will still be an incremental evolution.
Making sense of data has been hard for computers and it still is. Squared was a good effort but it needed work. Wolfram Alpha may be the most advanced thing we've got at the moment, but it's still very rough compared to what you'd really expect from an "answers machine," like the Enterprise's computer which Google search boss Amit Singhal aims to eventually replicate.