Is Microsoft Manipulating the Search Results with Their New MSN Search for Their Own Agenda?

Don’t be evil Sergey!

Not that I’m complaining… but… recently I wrote one of the first reviews for Microsoft’s new much heralded Media Center Edition 2005 software. For much of the last few months my review, entitled MCE 2005, Underwhelmed, has been in the top three search results for Google under the search “MCE 2005”. Most of the time it’s been the number one entry.

The review was mostly critical of Microsoft’s decision not to include HDTV satellite/cable capability in their new release as well as the slow as molasses speed of large mp3 libraries with their new software. At present the review is number five for the search “MCE 2005” on Google.

At the new MSN beta on the other hand, the article does not appear to be listed in the top 500 search results. MSN search does list a much more positive piece that I wrote on MCE 2005 which basically just aggregated all of the media coverage after the launch, but the review, which I would assume Microsoft would see as critical of a product that they are reportedly spending $20 billion on is nowhere to be found on the MSN Search Site.

In fact even with a “Thomas Hawk” + “MCE 2005” search my review of their product does not show up (although a link to the review from PVRblog to my article does show up as the 16th item with the above search).

Of course a “Thomas Hawk” + “MCE 2005” over at Google turns up not only the review but countless other prominent sites that linked the review (Slashdot, Engadget, PVRblog, ehome Upgrade, The Unofficial Microsoft Weblog, etc.).

Now I assume that because Slashdot, Engadget, et. al linked the review in the first place I get high placement on a Google search for “MCE 2005” (relevancy, page rank, etc. etc.). I’m not so much of a conspiracy theorist yet to assume that Microsoft would remove a review that they felt was critical of one of their important products. I mean come on. Who am I? How egotistical do I have to be think they really care about my puny little review. On the other hand you never know… but then again… I suppose Google could also be as guilty of placing a review negative to a Microsoft product higher than it might be otherwise.

The above is especially intriguing as the current search at the new MSN Search Beta site for “more evil than satan” brings back Google as the number one result. Number two of course would be the site, “The History of Satan,” while the number 5 spot belongs to Microsoft themselves. (Thanks, John Battelle). “Evil Search” and “Evil Search Engine” also bring up Google. Obviously there is some manipulation going on here. Of course it is tongue and cheek and I have a sense of humor and can appreciate it but it makes you wonder what else could be manipulated. Update: Anthony Liekens pointed out this morning on Slashdot, under the search “most evil” you get

As a trivial aside, the review is the number 35th item for the search “MCE 2005” over at Yahoo! — as if anyone really cares about Yahoo! anymore.

Update: Interesting. Since I posted this article last night, my review, MCE 2005, Underwhelemed is now showing up as the number 13th search item over at the MSN beta. Of course, despite the sensationalistic spin of my piece, I don’t really think Microsoft would actually purposely delete a negative review.. The article was also Slashdotted.