Last Thursday, Microsoft took the beta badge off Windows Live Search and installed it as the search engine behind MSN.com. It’s pretty good – not quite as fast as Google (which is bad), but better looking and more functional in certain areas (such as image search). Try it at search.live.com.
The reason it’s worthy of mention on this blog is because there appears to be a bug in the implementation of the redirector code (hosted at g.msn.com) which means that it’s not passing through referrer information; so at the time of writing it’s impossible to see what traffic live.com is driving to your site. This is unfortunate, to say the least; and to scotch any conspiracy theory rumours now, entirely unintentional. I expect there’ll be a fix very soon (if there isn’t one already).
Even when it is fixed, the new search engine will leave a different referrer trail in web analytics tools – the referring page will be http://beta.search.live.com/… rather than http://search.msn.com/… . This means that most web analytics tools need to be updated to allocate the new referrers to MSN/Live (and extract the relevant keyword parameters) rather than categorizing them as ‘No referrer’ or just A.N.Other site called beta.search.live.com.
[Update 9/21/06: This has now been fixed as of this morning. Referrer information is finding its way through again. Hurrah!]