The promise of the idea is that rather than just a broad search of large swaths of information, the new battleground was for recent updates to everything from websites to social networks to video to breaking news.
That promise has borne fruit in the form of Google's new search index, nicknamed "Caffeine," which in a break from tradition from Google, now promises that results are recent and not just relevant.
Not that it isn't still broad. "Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it's the largest collection of web content we've offered," Google writes in its announcement on Wednesday.
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Not to be out-announced, Microsoft's upstart Bing has rolled out a beta of its Social Search tool, which allows users to search Facebook and Twitter that includes recent status updates and buzzed-about links.
Both Microsoft and Google signed deals with Twitter to aggregate that company's data into search results. Microsoft is also a large investor in Facebook.
It illustrates that after years of trying to account for the scale of the Web, search providers are now competing to keep up with the speed of the Web.
Jackson West never thought he'd be writing "Microsoft" and "upstart" in the same sentence, but here we are.