Over at Ajaxian yesterday, Michael Mahemoff gives a heads up on the latest Web 2.0 move by MSN, which sees them offer pretty much as yet unheard of Ajax driven user features for their image search. 

It’s great, but it’s also gimmicky – KISS.

I’m not going to repeat what Michael has already noted because he says it well, so if you want to read it, then here’s the link to his article.

My only (humble) technical comments are that I really like the slider and the idea of the scratchpad implementations (I think they’re great examples of really complex code made unobtrusive and most importantly, useful).

When you look at an image search (I chose Wolverine ) for the first time, you need a few seconds to take in the user interface – there’s that slider that through good iconography tells you what it does right there on the tin, and once you’ve worked out that you need to hover over an image to get details it becomes more intuitive.

It kinda looks like how you imagine an image search of the future would look; only you’re looking at it now.

I think that the “smart scroll” is a bit gimmicky (mainly because it doesn’t work exactly as we’re used to scrollbars working – should it?) and the actual usability of the scratchpad needs some thinking.

(To remove an image from the scratchpad you have to drag it back onto the page – there is an X to the top right of the image when you mouse over, which apparently does not delete the image as you might expect, so it would be nice if they told us that dragging was the way to go, otherwise I’m missing something?).

What I’m far more interested in are the wider ramifications of this gutsy move by MSN. It has a few far reaching consequences that are worth talking about, most of which are good.

My first reaction was that this has already been done by Thomas Fuchs and his gang at Wollzelle, with their service Fluxiom, so it’s not entirely new at all.

But, it does make MSN the first to do something like this on a large, scaled, and very public site. So that means that in due course, we should see other large public service providers (Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Amazon and eBay come to mind) do similar things simply because they have to (or don’t they?). This will create a feature driven arms race, which will in turn make the world a better place.

No, I’m just kidding with that last bit – what I’m trying to say is that over the next 6 to 12 months, my humble estimation is that this new Ajax driven feature will kick-start other similar features so that the big gorillas start to have feature parity, which in turn will further legitimise the use of Ajax, but more importantly the user interface improvements and slickness that we all know the web is capable of.

Drag and drop is so much better than “Do you really want to add this item to the scratchpad?” dont’cha think?