This may be old news, but have you had a chance to play with Windows Live Academic. It’s positioning itself to go toe-to-toe with Google Scholar (who has already won the naming battle). Google Scholar has become the defacto search engine for a lot of students and researchers, I think. What can Live hope to do better?
Well, for one thing, they have citation export support in Endnote and BibTeX. That’s seriously helpful. It’s way slow on some searches, but it is in beta, so no penalty points there–although, again, isn’t everything at Google in perpetual beta?
Perhaps most interesting, though, is how different the results are.
A search for “blockmodel” in Academic Live comes up with eight results, none of which are among the first 10 results from Google Scholar. My gut feel is that the Google results are more keyed to what I would be looking for. Google also returns 387 hits, which is actually not an advantage (necessarily), but does give me more to work with.
Although I like the MS dual pane interface, I have to admit I prefer Google’s simpler interface. My usual use of search engines consists of clicking a bunch of results with the center button to push out a bunch of tabs, then going through the tabs in more detail. The process of mousing over results then looking over to the other pane, etc., seems clunky to me.
But competition is likely to be a good thing for users, especially given Google’s efforts to be come the single, omnipotent information utility.