Collaboration is one of the big buzz words these days on the Internet. In its most basic form it means users that create content together which would include most of the so called social news websites like Digg, but also social bookmarking websites like Delicious. More advanced forms are Wikipedia were authors are working together to create and edit articles.
Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon with Microsoft SearchTogether, a plugin for Internet Explorer that provides a feature to combine search results. This is very handy for any group of people who have the same or a similar goal, be it students who do their research together, a company project team doing research for it or a family that is searching for information about their next vacation.
SearchTogether is strongly tied to the Windows Live service which is being used to log in and invite other possible participants. One user has to create a session which is the basic description for every research project and invite the other participants. That team leader is the only person who can add other members to the group.
Sessions get updated automatically once they are selected from the menu by a participant. By default SearchTogether offers the function to search the Live, Google and Yahoo search engines but any other conventional search will be picked up by the plugin as well. It's possible to select a so called split or multi-engine search from the options instead of the standard search.
A split search splits the search results among all users who are currently logged in. If two group members are currently logged in and a search would reveal 20 search results each would receive 10 of them. A multi-engine search requires at least two logged in group members as well. Instead of splitting search results from one search engines it assigns all search results of a search engine to one group member.
Results can be rated and commented on and a summary is available that lists all search results that have been rated or that have received a comment.
Microsoft SearchTogether is a pretty interesting plugin for Internet Explorer 7 which I would love to see being ported to Firefox. I'm not sure if that is possible due to the Live tie-ins but some clever coders will probably find a way.
Update: Please note that SearchTogether is only compatible with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 browser officially. It is very likely that it is not working properly in newer versions of the browser.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.