Microsoft has started internal testing of the upgraded version of their search engine, Live Search. This new incarnation of Live Search has been codenamed Kumo.
On the 2nd of March 2009, Microsoft’s Search executive, Satya Nadella sent an email to all Microsoft employees, asking them to try out and then send in their feedback on the new test site, Kumo.com.
According to his mail, almost 40% of search queries go unanswered. With a view to improve the search experience and help users accomplish their tasks, Microsoft has undertaken this internal study.
The major difference between Kumo and other search engines will be the way the results query is narrowed down. An explorer pane on the left side of the search results page will give access to various tools, to help users with their tasks. There will also be features like single session history, and hover previews. On the right hand side related text ads will appear. The results in the center of the page will be organized in a way that saves time.
Even thought the test is being conducted internally at present, Live Search issued a statement last week, explaining that they are testing the revamped search engine and will hopefully be able to release it to the general public soon. They have also said that they are still considering whether to rebrand Live Search as Kumo or not.
Zack Stern at PC World speculates that Kumo might be the first major commercially available search engine that can conduct visual searches, that is, it would be able to identify and deliver pictures of certain people or objects or places based on what it “sees”.
It is widely accepted, probably even by the folk at Microsoft, that a mere rebrand will not solve their search-related stories. Their statement on the Live Search Blog indicates that this might be yet another branding exercise. However, that still begs the question why they would bother… haven’t they learnt anything from their last (MSN to Live Search) rebranding exercise?