Microsoft's Book-Search Project Has a Surprise Ending

Breaking News

It is hard to imagine a Microsoft venture falling under the weight of a competitor. But that's the post-mortem offered by many academic librarians as they ponder the software giant's recent and sudden announcement that it is shutting down its book-digitization project. The librarians' conclusion: Google did it.

Microsoft quietly revealed this month that it would end the program and the accompanying search software, Live Search Books and Live Search Academic. The project made complete book texts available and searchable online at no charge. The announcement was posted on a company blog the Friday before Memorial Day as many people left work early for the holiday weekend.

The blog post said that Microsoft wanted to focus its digitization and search efforts on markets with a "high commercial intent," such as travel.

It made no mention of Google, but librarians say the search company undoubtedly affected Microsoft's decision. Microsoft entered the scholarly digitization arena in October 2005, 10 months after Google did, and has been playing catch-up ever since.

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