Some companies thrive on the idea of having others utilize their service in new, creative ways. Facebook has an API. eBay has an API. Google has 20 APIs. People mash Google Maps and Craigslist. Yahoo just released a product which has the sole purpose of mixing content in ways that weren’t necessarily originally envisioned.
So now it’s Microsoft’s turn. I’m not saying they don’t have APIs. I’m not saying they don’t let people try new things with their technology. Although I’m also not saying they encourage it. Today, Microsoft confirmed that they have actually gutted an entire feature set out of their search engine because some minority of people are “abusing” it.
They’re essentially telling their power users to stop being power users.
I can’t say for certain if that’s incredibly stupid since I don’t know what exactly the “abuse” involved, but the demographic Microsoft is hurting here is potentially their biggest fans. The users who have taken the time to learn the intricate details of their advanced syntax are those that recognize a certain value in Live Search. When you take away the tools that these people have come to appreciate, you take away their reason to come back to your site.
In short, I think it’s a dumb move.