Kumo, Yah: Microsoft Planning a 'Set Change' in Search

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer acknowledged Thursday that Microsoft was working on a new version of its search service. But he did not claim this latest attempt to take queries away from Google is a game-changer, but more of a “set change” in what is currently dubbed its LiveSearch service.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer acknowledged Thursday that Microsoft was working on a new version of its search service. But he did not claim this latest attempt to take queries away from Google is a game-changer, but more of a “set change” in what is currently dubbed its LiveSearch service.

“Most of the innovation is still to come in search,” Ballmer said at the 2009 Business Week Media Summit. That gives it a chance to take share away from Google, over the long haul, he said. Currently, 58% of Web searches are on Google, while Microsoft handles 10 percent, by the count of Business Week’s editor in chief, Steve Adler, on the summit stage.

Catching up in search has proved “bigger and harder” than Microsoft expected, Ballmer said. But the new version of its search is likely to produce a much different user experience, than the long lists of search results that, he noted, remains the largely unchanged user experience even from Google over the last six years.

That “set change” is code-named Kumo.

Kumo will have a “task orientation” to help its users accomplish what they set out to do and use data gathered about users and their activities to predict “user intent.”

That attempt to figure out user intent and help them accomplish tasks could lead to resumed talks with Yahoo, about marrying their search businesses.

The talks may resume under new Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz. “It’s not about Yahoo’s technology it’s really about getting the pooled volume,” Ballmer said.

The more users you have, the more data you collect. The more data you collect, the more you know about users. The more you know about users, the better you can serve them. And serve up advertising, targeted at very specific interests, down to books about Venetian culture.

According to Strategy Eye:

Screen shots of Kumo.com show a left column that intelligently breaks down a search term into sub-sections. For example, users searching for a famous musician can click a number of headings such as images, songs, lyrics, biography, and videos. Similarly, searching for a brand of car will provide different sub-headings such as parts, accessories, sales and images. Results will be ordered in the main search screen starting with the top web links, before listing the sub-divided results. Other new features include a "hover preview" function, while Kumo's left-hand panel will also display related search terms and provide session history details that users can easily use to click back into previous articles. This history list can be manually managed or cleared.

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