Martin Veitch takes a brief look at Microsoft's Tafiti sample application.
Microsoft has uploaded an open beta of its Tafiti search site that has led to critics queuing up to admire its user interface. However, while Tafiti is noteworthy, don’t expect to dump Google anytime soon.
Tafiti requires Microsoft’s Silverlight cross-platform, cross-browser plug-in that is intended to provide a platform for rich internet applications, and also mandates that popups are enabled.
It certainly has an interesting user interface with searches conducted through a virtual index card, a “carousel” for search types and the ability to store results stacked on a “shelf”.
Some reviewers suggest that Tafiti is slow although it performed well on a standard Windows XP laptop across a corporate internet connection.
The main, indeed the overwhelming, drawback is that Tafiti is based on Microsoft’s LiveSearch, which is still lagging behind the mighty Google. Searches were largely relevant but not as good as those from the world’s most popular site.
To get a second opinion on Tafiti, I spoke to Julian Harris, senior business consultant at Conchango, a UK services firm that is behind a lot of the smartest new consumer and retail web sites, many of them based on the latest Microsoft code.
“The usability is definitely taking a back seat to the eye candy and it’s basically a showcase for Silverlight,” Julian told me.
“It looks great and it’s fun to demo but there is no help if you mistype a search query, no cached view, and you can’t even search on the [stacked searches].”
The best way to think about Tafiti is, as Julian suggests, a flag-waving exercise for Silverlight. Many such proof-of-concepts get a bit of attention then fade away. So in that sense at least, maybe Tafiti is a case of “job done” for Microsoft.
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