Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Microsoft takes Kumo for testdrive

In previous blog entries I've written about Microsoft loosing the online battle to Google and why they desperately need to team up with Yahoo. Google offers a whole suite of online applications, but at the core is of course Google's searchengine and this is where Microsoft wants to take the battle to in launching their new searchengine 'Kumo'

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that the company had started testing the new service, which is supposed to be much more intelligent that Google's. It is supposed to understand syntax and the relation between queries. Last monday CNet reported :

"Word that Microsoft was close to launching the new search tool began with a Twitter posting by Powerset co-founder Barney Pell, who now serves as a "search strategist and evangelist" for Microsoft. In the posting, reported by enthusiast site LiveSide, Pell did not mention the Kumo name, but said that the site was getting an updated user interface and new brand.

"Barney was referring to our internal testing environments," the Microsoft representative said, adding that the company had nothing to announce today. "We are not in a position to confirm what will come to the market or when." Microsoft acquired Pell's Powerset in July. "

According to yesterday's news at CNet, Kumo is a rebranded version of Microsoft Live Search. However, to stand more than a snowflake's chance in hell, Kumo needs to be a whole lot more than a mere revampt of the Live Search, which is the 3rd largest searchengine and currently has a marketshare of 8,5%, trailing Google (60%) and Yahoo (21%) by miles.

In yesterday's article at CNet they also laid hands on an internal Microsoft email calling out for testers. Here's a wee bit from the article:

In spite of the progress made by search engines, 40 percent of queries go unanswered; half of queries are about searchers returning to previous tasks; and 46 percent of search sessions are longer than 20 minutes. These and many other learnings suggest that customers often don't find what they need from search today.

We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. During the test, features will vary by country, but you'll see results organized in a way that saves you more time. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks. Other features like single session history and hover preview help accomplish more in search sessions.

Also from the same CNet article, a first screenshot of Kumo

For now, Kumo is the projects codename, but the blogoshere doubts it will be the final brandname. Officially, Kumo is Japanese for 'Cloud' and 'Spider' but sounds a little too much like that crazy dog, Cujo, from a Stephen King novel (according to ZDnet)

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