I'm a little annoyed...
You see, a couple years back Microsoft announced that they, like Google, would start indexing books and professional journals which were only available in print and then integrate those results into a specialized search engine. I'm a big supporter of this movement because I believe its very important to index those printed documents so they don't get lost in the new digital age.
Back to Microsoft, To do this they joined with the Open Content Alliance, a non-profit group dedicating to archiving this sort of thing. At the time it was a coup because Google had chosen to go it alone with their book search making Microsoft look like the good guy.
Good PR all around, Until Today...
This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users.
Given the evolution of the Web and our strategy, we believe the next generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable business model for the search engine, consumer, and content partner. For example, this past Wednesday we announced our strategy to focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers.
I have to say it...what a bunch of dopes.
Look, I'm for a sustainable business model as much as the next guy but when you have nearly 80,000 employees and make $51 BILLION per year it pays to look at the big picture. The big picture where the cost of a few $35,000 a year employees is worth 10 times that amount in good will.
I mean, this doesn't require highly paid programmers. The technology behind the book scanning is long since worked out. Its simply an issue of caring enough to keep some low level clerical employees on the job. I'd think Microsoft would do that just to keep their search index growing.
As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land put it...
Gosh, Google somehow seems to be able to run a sustainable business model and devote some energy and resources into indexing books and scholarly information, even if those generate little to no revenue. They do it in part because they think it's good business to provide all types of searches, not just those that will earn them money.
In the middle of a search war, I can understand that a "distraction" like book and academic search might seem like something to Microsoft that has to go. However, Microsoft's not hurting for cash to keep it up, if it wanted.
I mean what could Microsoft Execs possibly be thinking here? I've been to Microsoft, I've seen parts of their org. chart, you can not tell me that cutting book search belonged at the very top of the cost cutting list. This program could be funded for the cost of a couple useless Program Managers and Microsoft would probably be better off for having fired the Program Managers
(not that all Program Managers are useless but there are plenty working there who are)
Honestly, what a bunch of idiots. If anyone with any power at Microsoft is reading this, follow my advice: Fire whoever made this decision and use their salary to keep the program going. THAT would be a good business move.