Microsoft uses obnoxious Flash-based front end for Live search

Microsoft has released an Adobe Flash front end to its Live services in the form of Ms. Dewey. Ms. Dewey

is an interactive video ... kind of like a live-action version of the Microsoft Paperclip. The blogosphere is positioning this as another Microsoft vs. Google kind of battle for the minds of young up-and-coming search users. And to the extent that all things search is an attempt to take on Google, it is. But the more interesting story here is that this front end is Flash not Silverlight. An interesting choice given that Silverlight is about to come into its own. Microsoft scored a giant coup with Silverlight because NBC will be using it to stream content from the Beijing Olympics. In fact, a preview site launched yesterday.

So why use Flash now for Ms. Dewey? Hold that question for a moment because the next most obvious thing to say about Ms. Dewey is that she is completely Ms. Obnoxious. She is an eyelash batting, nasal-toned actress who hurls mild insults if she doesn't understand your search request. (And, while waiting, she sings off key.) It's not cute. And it really brings into question: wonder if the folks on the Live Search team know that half the world's population is comprised of women. (Even the GPS system makers have figured this out -- they give you the choice of a male or female voice issuing audio directions.) For the record, there is an alternative to Ms. Dewey ... the Left vs. Right team of newscasters who each represent the worst cliche's in sexism (and they too, hurl insults about your search term and sing off key ... so appealing -- NOT!)

So why Flash, why now? The obvious answer is that the overt obnoxiousness of the Ms. Dewey and Left/Right characters is an attempt to subliminally convince users to hate Flash. (Of course, this doesn't explain the Paperclip.)

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