RealTime IT News

Microsoft U.S. Searches Sink to 12-Month Low

Microsoft search

Microsoft's share of U.S. searches last month fell to its lowest level in a year, according to Web tracking firm comScore.

The latest data show that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) garnered only 8.2 percent of all U.S. search queries in February, slipping from 8.5 percent in January. The company had previously held a 9.6 percent share in February 2008.

Meanwhile, a comScore spokesperson said that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) easily remains king of the hill, with a February share of more than 63 percent, an increase of nearly 42 percent for the same month in 2008.

Besides Microsoft and Google, comScore said that Yahoo's share of queries came in at 21 percent for the month, up 26 percent since this time last year.

The findings come as the latest bad news for Microsoft's efforts in search, which have seen it unable to catch up to first- and second-place Google and Yahoo after years of effort.

Earlier this week, in fact, Microsoft's chief operating officer Kevin Turner told London's Times Online that the company would still be open to a search deal of some sort with Yahoo -- potentially reigniting efforts to boost Microsoft's search through acquisition.

That was the third time in recent weeks that Microsoft senior executives have publicly expressed the sentiment that they would like to explore some manner of relationship with the pioneering Web portal.

The intrigue between the two companies began 13 months ago, when Microsoft launched a $44.6 billion hostile takeover of the No. 2 search engine company, in a move to prop up its own limping, single-digit search market share. Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) resisted, also later shrugged off offers by Microsoft to purchase its core search engine business alone.

Ultimately, the standoff between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, cost Yang his job. He was replaced by former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz, who has not yet said definitively whether some kind of transaction with the software titan would be on or off the table. However, she did say that she hadn't been brought on board specifically to lead a deal to sell the company.

Beyond its yearlong designs on Yahoo, Microsoft has also been working to improve on its own search performance, recently revealing that it is working on another homegrown search technology, codenamed Kumo.

[cob:Special_Report]Despite the grim findings from comScore, Microsoft may find some reasons to cheer another set of rankings. According to tracking firm Net Applications, its share of search queries is actually increasing on a worldwide basis.

Net Applications said Microsoft's global share of search queries rose marginally last month, from 4.62 percent in January to 4.71 in February.

Meanwhile, Google's share of worldwide search queries last month came in at 81.57 percent, compared to 81.48 in January. Yahoo's share, according to Net Applications, slipped slightly lower from 10.22 percent in January to 10.07 percent.