Microsoft Thursday unveiled a revamped Live Search API that developers can use to embed search on Web sites with more support for frequently used Web-development technologies and less restrictions on how third parties use the technology on their Web sites.
Microsoft also is releasing third parties from previous restrictions on how they use the API, he said. There are no limits to the amount of queries sites can make and site developers can rank content how they want. Developers also can syndicate Microsoft's image search, news search and phone-book search and have "complete control within their site," Norton said.
Third parties using the Silkroad API also aren't required to run Microsoft Live Search ads on their sites, he said. However, if they do, they will receive revenue from a standard revenue-sharing agreement Microsoft has with search partners.
Microsoft's Live Search is third behind Google and Yahoo, and the new API is aimed at getting more third parties to use Microsoft's search engine to power their Web sites, Norton said, acknowledging that "there aren't many" sites using Live Search now.
He called Microsoft's decision to open its API and release restrictions a way of "democratizing the [search] platform" in the same way it has allowed developers successfully use Windows and other Microsoft software as foundational technologies in the past.
In other search news, Microsoft also Thursday provided an update on its Cashback program, another way the company is trying to get more people to use Live Search. Microsoft launched the program in May as a way to give consumers discounts for products purchased online if they discover those products using Live Search.
Microsoft has added Macy's and Nordstrom to the list of 20 U.S. online retailers participating in Cashback, Norton said. Retailers also said the program is gaining a lot of traction among people purchasing from their sites, he said.
For example, Norton said eBay is reporting that they are converting sales 50 percent more if users discovers a product via Live Search Cashback than if they don't. Another company working with Microsoft, ShoeMall, said its sales through Live Search Cashback are six times better than standard sales.