Microsoft Support Switches to Live Search
In the spirit of the famous review of Spinal Tap's album "Shark Sandwich", I was tempted to post a two-word review,the first word of which is "Advanced".
My three-word review, then - "Worst. Search. Ever".
But, just in case you didn't get the hint, here is the explanation:
How on earth is this an "Advanced Search"? Because I can tell it I want to limit my search to the KB, all of Microsoft, or all of the Internet? If those are the only options I care to use, I can go to Google.
I come to the support page - particularly the Advanced Search - so that I can select what product I'm looking for an answer on, and then type my search query. Sometimes, when I'm searching for an article I know I've seen before, I'll search just in the title. Here's how the site looked in June 2007, according to the Wayback Machine:
Microsoft, I know you want us all to use http://search.live.com, which seems to be a good search engine (though harder to type than google.com), but by associating the name with a substandard search on your support web site, I think you will have achieved the opposite effect.
I'd rather associate search.live.com with the fantastic http://maps.live.com - with 3d that really is 3d - or with Windows Live Writer, which provides me with an excellent blogging environment - or with Windows Live Messenger, which is useful if you can ignore the adverts.
In fact, there are many features of search.live.com to love - the image search, which presents an infinitely-scrollable plane of picture results, or the video search, with previews of the videos.
But don't turn the utility of a support-friendly search into the futility of a flat search. When it comes down to it, and perhaps being a little hostile, I can Google Microsoft's Knowledge Base just as easily from Google as I can from http://support.microsoft.com.
A specialised search location requires the use of specialised knowledge to make the search more ... special. If you use a special tool or special interface to do that, you aren't implying that your general search tool is bad.