Web Search 2.0: Tafiti Review

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Pros: Easy to save search results; News results formatted like a newspaper

Cons: Tree View is confusing

Verdict: Microsoft's intriguing research tool offers plenty of eye candy but feels half-baked.

Ask.com isn't the only search site that's sprinkling some Web 2.0 magic around. Tafiti, a new tool created by Microsoft that runs on the Windows Live search engine and Silverlight technology platform, steps up to the plate with a unique look and feel that makes organizing and saving search results pretty intuitive (assuming you have a Windows Live ID). But so far Tafiti is more slick than it is practical.

Downloading Silverlight 1.0--Microsoft's cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering a next generation Web experiences--is required to access the Tafiti site. Note that Silverlight technology won't run on certain browsers, such as Opera and Safari 3.

You start your search in a box that's centered on the page and skinned to look like notes taken on a sheet of lined paper. These RSS Feed, News, Images, Web, and Books icons are visually appealing replacements for the simple tabs that typically run horizontally on the top of a search engine window.

Once dragged, a standard icon appears for each page. We would have liked to see a thumbnail of a given article, site, or image. And we were disappointed that the only way to tell the pages apart was to type in a tag for each site on the shelf.

The News search results are cleverly formatted: Instead of returning a list of links, you get a virtual newspaper. All the headlines are placed in boxes, and clicking within these boxes takes you to the article in a new browser tab. We'd like the option to view pages from within the Tafiti site itself. We weren't very impressed with Tree View, either, which lets you see your relevant results on a chart that resembles a family tree.

These interactive features were a bit slow to respond, and after each click, Tafiti took a few seconds to process the command. Overall, we found Tafiti visually appealing, but the user interface needs a lot more work before we make this site our everyday search partner.


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