In the March 07, 2007, newsletter, I wrote an article on the then-new Microsoft Live Search Books. The article is still available at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/03/microsoft_books.html. Now, only fourteen months later, Microsoft is abandoning the project.
Microsoft Books was planned to challenge Google Books. Millions of out-of-copyright books were to be scanned and made available at no charge online. My assumption was that several thousand genealogy and local history books would probably be included. It sounded like a great resource for genealogists.
In that article, I wrote, "Microsoft has launched an online library in a move to compete against Google's controversial project to digitize the world's books. Consumers benefit any time when two industry giants meet in head-to-head competition. In this case, genealogists will benefit as they have even more free genealogy and local history books to search."
In an article posted Friday on the Microsoft Live Search Blog, the company announced, "Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week."
The article then continues, "This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users."
It appears that Google Books is now "King of the Hill." Indeed, it is a great resource, so great that Microsoft apparently could not crack the market dominance Google enjoys.
The loss of Microsoft Books doesn't strike me as a great loss for genealogists simply because Microsoft never really got the project rolling at high speed. Nonetheless, any time competition dies off, leaving only one player in a position to dominate the marketplace, all consumers lose a little bit. It now looks like Google Books has the scanned books marketplace to themselves.
You can read the Microsoft announcement at http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch/archive/2008/05/23/book-search-winding-down.aspx.
You can read more about Google Books in my earlier article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2006/10/full_text_genea.html.