Speculation mounts over Microsoft Kumo search

Speculation is rife as to what Microsoft’s rumoured Kumo search engine will or will not do, both in terms of functionality and for the company's search market share.

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Speculation is rife as to what Microsoft’s rumoured Kumo search engine will or will not do, both in terms of functionality and for the company's search market share.

While little is officially known about Kumo, the Wall Street Journal has reported Microsoft will unveil the new search engine next week. Some industry analysts said they already have been briefed about the search engine under nondisclosure agreements.

Microsoft has never publicly acknowledged that it will rename its Live Search engine Kumo, but the company has confirmed it's testing a search engine internally using the Kumo.com URL. Bing is another name rumoured to be the rebrand for the next iteration of Live Search.

Some believe the new search engine won't have any new technology beyond what competitors Google and Yahoo already have, based on screenshots of Kumo that were leaked to the web in March, said Greg Sterling, analyst with Sterling Market Intelligence.

"It doesn't look radically different from the current form of so-called universal search," he said. However, Microsoft apparently has been doing work on the back end to improve the search engine, which won't be evident to people until they use the new engine, Sterling said.

Microsoft is expected to include some of the features of the Powerset search engine it acquired last June from the San Francisco-based startup. Powerset developed a technology that attempts to understand the full meanings of phrases people type while searching, returning results based on that understanding.

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