Microsoft has announced that it is shutting down Live Search Books and Live Search Academic, two search engines that aimed to index scholarly works that are often difficult to find online. The company is also ceasing its ambitious effort to digitize library books, a project that it had long promoted as an alternative to Google's own such efforts.
The company says it "recognizes" that closing these services will "come as disappointing news" to publishers and Web searchers. And yet Microsoft says it must shut them down anyway, because letting people search through books and academic journals no longer fits into the company's business strategy.
What's that new strategy? Microsoft wants to help people who have "high commercial intent."
I am not making that up. Satya Nadella, the company's vice president for search, actually uses those words. Microsoft would simply prefer to build search engine just for people looking to buy stuff.
As usual, Microsoft's strategy seems short sighted. Google runs the no-profit features, like Google Scholar, because those same people (e.g., students with some discretionary funds) come back to Google when they're looking to spend money. As the happy architect of certain obscure searches, I'm glad it works for them.