MSDN Search

If you have ever used MSDN, you would agree when I say that the #1 request, by a huge margin, from our customers is improved search.


The MSDN team at Microsoft has been working on improving search.  Recently, the team launched a new MSDN Search Beta, integrating more relevant search from Microsoft and the community into one easy-to-use page.   This beta rolls out site-wide soon.  Please send us your feedback.


You will be able to search MSDN Forums with 10s of thousands of answered questions & an active community generating new answers every day.  You can also find resources from Codezone within Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 by using Help…Search and clicking on the 'Codezone' tab!  We have improved relevance for MSDN Online search results via leveraging implicit user feedback.  MSDN now mines web logs and search logs to deduce the “best” MSDN links for a search query.  Over the next few months, relevance (especially for common queries) should improve significantly as the system is populated with more data.  Other improvements include the ability to switch back and forth between Microsoft and community results with one click without leaving the search page, simpler UI which aligns well with Visual Studio 2005's search UI and online integration into Visual Studio 2005.  You can find resources from MSDN Forums within Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 by using Help…Search and clicking on the 'Questions' tab!


Many more features are on the way, including an MSN-based back-end, product/technology filtering, and much more.  You will see MSDN search continuing to get better.





Comments (7)

  1. codputer says:

    Thank-you – To round it out may I suggest a link for MSDN subscribers within VS to take us directly to this search page? I’m sure a good percentage of MSDN subscribers (especially universal) are your hard core type that are not looking for just how to’s but very in-depth technical issues that are now (currently) difficult to find through all the clutter! Another great step in the right direction though – your support resources are great and we appreciate the continuing focus.

  2. Thanks for the update Soma!

  3. MSDN Archive says:

    Thanks for blogging about the work we are doing. I met with customers last week at DevConnections 2005, it was very exciting to get their feedback and input on the work we are doing. Our team is committed to making the real tangible changes that customers want to see in regards to search.

  4. msvista says:

    They should have added a Blog search as well in side to Forums so that one doesn’t need to jump to to do another search.

    Sometimes blogs also has code snippets and pointers.

  5. anon says:

    I have seen years upon years of so-called announcements of MSDN search getting strongly improved. Color me unimpressed. MSDN search is, until proven otherwise, a raw pile of crap that those maintaining it should be ashamed of. Also the built-in MSDN in VC2005 has given me the worst experience of a Microsoft product I had in a decade (the increased confusion when you do a search between results and the way the items are displayed).

    You should give a compelling reason not to use Google to find valuable, targeted content. And adding more content from dev sites to MSDN search is not going to make results better, only even harder to filter.

    I can’t believe we should have this kind of discussion in 2005.

  6. Justin Grant says:

    Hi anon – I’m also a long-time (10+ years) VC user, and here’s how I have my VC2005 IDE configured, to more closely resemble previous versions of VC. I know the new “more friendly” search UI is good for novices and people new to the IDE, but here’s what I do to get a “power user” search UI on 2005:

    a) do a search, right-click on results and uncheck "show abstracts". This makes search results *much* more compact. You can still see the abstracts when you mouse-over a result but now each result takes up only one line.

    b) Right-click on the "search" tab and choose "dockable". Drag that window to the bottom so it attaches to the bottom. Now you can click on search results and see the content on the same screen at once, making it faster to view multiple results in sequence without flipping between pages.

    c) go to tools…options… Help… General and change the "results per page" option to something larger, like 100.

    These three changes result in a search experience much more like VC6/2003.

    Also, did you notice that the UI at makes it easy to get results from other dev sites like Forums and Codezone sites, but doesn’t clutter up MSDN-only search results… the community results are in separate tabs, so you can get there with one click but they won’t get in your way if you don’t need them.

    Finally, Soma above noted that "Over the next few months, relevance… (especially for common queries) should improve significantly as the system is populated with more data." So it’s probably worth a little time to see if this new MSDN Search Beta improves relevance a lot. Also Soma mentioned that MSDN is moving its back-end to the new, more relevant MSN search engine, which should improve things further. Sounds promising…

  7. S.Somasegar says:

    Hi codputer,

    We do something similar to what you are asking for. When you click the MSDN Online tab on our search results, we display exactly the same results the user would see by going to the MSDN site. Is this what you are looking for?

    – somasegar

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