"We have a strategy for competing in the search space that Google dominates today, that we'll pursue that we had before we made the Yahoo offer, and that we can pursue without that. It involves breakthrough engineering." -Bill Gates
When MicroSoft first started their search site, I remember the person in charge of it saying "We're going to beat Google by giving people a better user experience!" or words to that effect. I shook my head and laughed at that clueless marketing-droid. How very Microsoft, I thought: "If we just serve up a crap product in a pretty wrapper, people will flock to us!" (Well, it worked for Windows ME didn't it?)
Looks like this time they're at least trying to do it the right way. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll succeed. Even assuming that MicroSoft was ever capable of inventing fundamental, revolutionary changes in software, I kinda doubt that they're capable of doing so now. But at least with the "we're going to build a better search engine that gives more relevant, better results than Google" approach, the chances of success (while small) may be non-zero. As opposed to last time, when their choice of approach made even the possibility of success absolutely nil.