tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

MSN search toolbar

MSN have launched their own toolbar for Internet Explorer, so you can search direct from a toolbar rather than going to their search page, and it has some other utilities as well.

http://toolbar.msn.com/

It seems to duplicate pretty much what the Google toolbar does (right down to being Windows only), without the Page Rank indicator, or a version for their results - it'll be interesting to see if they add one once they're doing their own results. I wonder whether Google regret having the PR indicator on their own toolbar as it gives people doing search engine optimisation something to argue / market themselves through and almost encourages abuse in going for a high page rank for their clients pages. Still, I suppose if Google doesn't like it, they can always turn that functionality off at their servers. I'd almost like to see them do that for a while, it would make the fuss in the SEO world over the recent Google updates (nicknamed Florida and Austin) look like a few old blokes muttering in the pub. The forums would go insane.

Also mildly interesting is that they have introduced pop-up blocking with the MSN bar, which I would have thought is what makes the Google bar popular with a lot of people who aren't interested in page rank or doing lots of searching. Personally I find Mozilla's pop-up blocking more useful than the Google bar, so hopefully Microsoft have copied that. Mozilla blocks pop-ups that open when you first go to a page (or leave it) but if you click on a link in a page that causes a pop-up, it lets it appear, whereas the Google bar blocks it unless you alter it's settings. That can be annoying when you're using a website where the pop-ups are part of the useful nature, rather than just irritating adverts.

The MSN bar seems to represent a stop-gap for features that they would have used to launch IE 6.1 or something similar in the past. It's interesting that having said they won't launch a separate browser in the future that they're now putting in features people want via another method. Still, I suppose this might come from the search engine group within Microsoft rather than the browser group. I'd expect all of this to be in the next version of IE, whenever that comes out.

Shame they don't have a decent-CSS-support toolbar add-on, that would help a lot more than this will!
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