The new Search experience on Microsoft.com (not to be confused with MSN Search, which searches the whole Internet; this search “merely” searches the 4 to 6 million pages of content on Microsoft.com) is available.
Before today, if you searched for a term you would get categorized buckets of results: the top three downloads, product information pages, support articles, etc. that matched your terms. Today the results are returned in a flat list, with additional search scoping options available in the right navigation.
Reduced functionality? Not really. As Amazon has found, if you return results in fixed scopes and categories, you run the risk of a highly relevant result in a category that’s far down the page and consequently never seen. Getting the categories out of the way but keeping the option to select them for filtering handy is a kind of “best of both worlds” situation: the categories don’t interfere with relevance but are there if you need them.
It will be interesting to see what people like Korby Parnell (and his commenters in this post) think of the difference.
Aside: while I didn’t work on the actual release, I was part of a team of researchers that analyzed customer data around the last version of search to make recommendations for this version. Kind of nice to see the vision come true; hopefully it will be an improvement for our users.