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Monday, December 13, 2010

Tafiti showcases latest Microsoft technologies

In another attempt to one-up Google, Microsoft has released a website called Tafiti (which means 'do research' in Swahili) designed to highlight its new Microsoft Silverlight and Live Search technologies.
The showcase website is all about specialty search, and is a means for Microsoft to differentiate itself from Google.

The Tafiti website is split in to three main sections. The leftmost column is where you enter your search term and select the type of media you are searching for (images, text, RSS, books and news).
Search results are presented in the middle column, and the rightmost column is a virtual shelf that is designed to store various results pages that you want to refer to.
Microsoft is selling Tafiti as a research tool that allows for greater exploration of subject in a single window interface.
For those that are bored with the standard results list view, Microsoft has created a new 'tree view'.
According to Microsoft, 'clicking on the Tree View link provides a tree-based visualisation of your web search results.' The visualisation slowly cycles through and displays all the results for your query, and a slider at the bottom of the tree lets you adjust how many results (or branches) are displayed on the tree. It's complicated to view and doesn't seem in the least bit practical.
While Tafiti is worth playing with I don't see it going mainstream. For one, the interface is way too slow, and secondly too confusing for novice users. The interface isn't consistent and the whole paper and wood analogy just doesn't yell 'future' to me.

Also, because Tafiti relies on Live Search, search results are generally inferior to a Google search for the same term. But, it's good to see Microsoft doing stuff that's at least different to its competitors.
Tafiti runs on all platforms that can support Silverlight (Vista, XP SP2 and Mac OS X) and runs on IE 6, IE 7, Firefox and Safari.

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