After a weekend of "it's on-again/no it's not" rumors regarding Microsoft doing some kind of search deal with Yahoo, it's worth noting the Redmondians are still pushing ahead with their plan to rebrand Live Search as "Kumo."
Kumo is one of a handful of potential new search brands Microsoft has been investigating as a replacement for Live Search, according to my sources. (Others under consideration, as of this summer, included "Bing" and "Hook.") But recently, Microsoft redirected some of its search servers to point to the Kumo.com domain, leading many to speculate that Kumo was the leader in Microsoft's search-rebranding bake-off.
It's not justthe Kumo.com domain that the Softies have registered. It turns out it also has registered related placeholder names for some of the verticals that the company's search unit has been targeting -- such as, travel, healthcare, wiki-search and the like. CSC -- one of Microsoft's favored "hidden" domain registrars -- and the original registrar of kumo.com -- has taken possession of more than a few other Kumo-specific domains. Among them:
It's "hard to imagine the name changing if you've invested in all of these domains," as a source of mine said.
It' also important to keep a couple of points in mind when trying to separate fact from fiction around the never-ending Microsoft-Yahoo deal rumors.
First: Microsoft officials are not going to admit they are interested in any part of Yahoo at this point, so as to keep Yahoo's stock price (and potential worth) as low as possible. Secondly, anyone who owns Yahoo stock is going to be happy to tip journalists, bloggers and other interested parties that a deal with Microsoft is imminent so as to inflate the Yahoo stock price and company worth.
What do you think is more likely to happen? Will Microsoft end up consummating some kind of deal with Yahoo designed to prop up the Softies' search share? Or will Microsoft go it alone and try to goose its search share by rebranding Live Search? It's obvious Microsoft needs to do more than continue to dabble with new search business models, given incidents like this past weekend's Live Search Cashback malfunction.