Microsoft is expected to take its first baby steps on the road to Web search independence on Thursday, with the launch of a homegrown Internet search tool and changes to its Internet search engine.
The revamped MSN Search remains a front end for technology provided by Yahoo, offering mainly a face-lift aimed to make it look more like Google. The relatively minor changes signal that--after a year in development and a $100 million investment--Microsoft's ballyhooed search push still has a long way to go.
The new MSN Search features fewer ads. In addition, MSN will host a dedicated "light" search page that the company boasts will out-Google Google in its minimalism. Microsoft also took a step that could distance it from Yahoo, removing search links for now from marketers that pay a fee for inclusion in Yahoo's search index. The changes are expected to improve search results by 50 percent, Microsoft claims.