June 26, 2003 | Category:

The Bot Wars

There’s a few discussions going on just now about boycotting the new MSN crawler, MSN bot. There are those who say that we have to stop Microsoft from implementing a reasonable search engine (for those that don’t know, blogs are incredibly powerful tools in influencing search engines, for various reasons that I won’t go into now), and there are those who say that such an effort is futile and childish.

I haven’t picked a side yet, but I’m swayed towards the blocking crowd. After Microsofts recent announcement that it would cease all stand-alone development of IE, web developers are now very much in a locked in situation: we have to continue supporting a browser with terrible standards support and a limited feature set.

Essentially, Microsoft threw its weight behind the browser market, won the war there and then refused to make any progress; screwing a lot of people over.

Now, Microsoft is throwing its weight behind the search market. In typical style for the corporation, we can expect to see their search engine embedded in every program they can squeeze it into. This could be a good thing; integrated search that works could bring a lot of consistency to the search sphere.

Most likely, it’ll be a bad thing. They’ll implement a reasonable search engine, use various tactics to corner the market, lock it up, and then refuse to progress (again). It’s not that hard to imagine, and it would screw a lot of people over (seeing a theme yet?).

I’ve been researching a lot to do with searching recently, and I know there’s a lot of great ideas out there that should be done. Giving the search sphere to Microsoft would cripple those ideas.

You know what, in the process of writing this I have convinced myself what side I’m on.