Microsoft Tests Kumo Search Service

NetworksSoftware

Staff at Microsoft are testing a new, online search tool within the company. But could it beat Google? And will it be called Kumo, or something else?

Microsoft’s new search service, codenamed Kumo, could replace Live Search, and start a new bid to dislodge Google’s dominance of web searches and the advertising revenue they bring. It was announced in a memo this week.

“Kumo.com exists only inside the corporate network, and in order to get enough feedback we will be redirecting internal live.com traffic over to the test site in the coming days,” said head of research at Microsoft’s online division, Satya Nadella in the memo. “Kumo is the codename we have chosen for the internal test.”

Despite widespread use of Windows and Live Messenger, Microsoft’s search currently trails behind both Google and Yahoo , leading to the company’s failed attempt to buy Yahoo for $47.5 billion in 2008.

The Kumo search site – currently not available outside Microsoft – appears to have semantic features, at least according to leaked screenshots that have not been validated by Microsoft. As well as serving results and related adverts, Kumo can offer suggestions for further searches, which are context sensitive (for instance offering lyrics and tickets, when a musician’s name is entered).

In the memo, published on The Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital blog, Nadella said: “We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks.”

The name Kumo has two entirely appropriate meanings for a web-crawling search engine: it means both “cloud” and “spider” in Japanese. However, it is not popular with most commentators.

Todd Bishop has suggested, at TechFlash, that the company would do better to use “start.com” a domain it owns, which it could market as the “starting point for the Internet”.

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