Microsoft tests search clustering tool

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Public beta may signal text mining features in SharePoint.

Microsoft has launched new search results clustering (SRC) technology that allows users to more efficiently navigate the fruits of a Web search.

The SRC beta allows users to view results according to 'clusters' ranked in a navigation pane on the left side of the results screen. 

The technology has come out of Microsoft's Web Search and Mining (WSM) group based in Beijing, China. 

Part of Microsoft's global Research Labs, the WSM group is tasked with creating "a large-scale search platform to efficiently store, parse, index and search billions of web pages and other types of documents".

The group is looking at several key areas, such as vertical search, multimedia and mobile search, to help bring structure and interrogation services to the information available on the web after years of chaotic growth.

Stephen Arnold, an analyst at Arnold IT, told that the new technology could beef up Microsoft's SharePoint Server and give it more firepower against enterprise search vendors such as Autonomy and Fast Search & Transfer. 

"SharePoint has long needed more advanced search features, and it looks as if this clustering technology might be an important indication of what Microsoft will roll out," said Arnold.

"Microsoft's interface has been influenced to some degree by the interfaces offered by Vivisimo and Fast Search & Transfer."
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