announced the release of a new experimental search engine interface with a focus on personalization and social networking. U Rank allows you to reorder your searches, add notes, create lists of results, and share your personalized search results with your friends. The search results look like they are drawn directly from from Microsoft Live Search. Microsoft has created a short screencast that demonstrates U Rank's functionality in detail.Microsoft Research just
Definitely Not Google+Digg
The main feature of this new search interface - the ability to reorder search results at will - is decisively different from the rumors about a digg-style Google interface that tend to reappear regularly. In U Rank, your changes only appear to your friends and don't influence the overall search index.
The emphasis of U Rank is on collaboration and sharing. U Rank keeps a history of all your searches, but these are not shared by default. U Rank also allows you to create lists of search results by allowing you to copy a given search result to another search. You could, for example, create a list of personalized search results for a search term like "Best Digital Camera."
Definitely Still a Prototype
U Rank is clearly still a prototype. Search results take a long time to load, and some very basic user interface issues clearly still need to be worked out. There is, for example, no way to move a search result from the second search page to the first, and the interface for dragging and dropping items sometimes doesn't work well. To be really useful, it would also be helpful if you could organize your friends into groups, so that you can share your searches on lists more selectively.
However, this is also a very interesting experiment that takes search into a different direction by putting a lot of emphasis on social interaction. If your searches tend to be very broad, you would probably have to have a lot of friends to ever encounter an annotated or reordered result, but we can see how this new interface could be very useful if you are working in a team that is focused on a very specific topic.