Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

A Sneak Peek Look at Microsoft’s New Kumo: A Spidery Cloud? A Cloudy Spider?


Here below are three screenshots of Microsoft’s internal test of a new search product called Kumo.

The long expected upgrade to the Live Search product from Microsoft (MSFT) is being tested for a public rollout later this year.

The blogosphere was a-twitter, literally, after a Twitter post by Powerset co-founder Barney Pell this past weekend, about a rebranding and updating of the search offering. (Microsoft acquired Powerset last year and Pell works on search strategy.)

Sources at Microsoft said the company has not yet decided whether it will keep the Kumo name, which sounds a little too much like that crazy dog from the Stephen King novel.

Maybe that’s the point, at least related to Google. (Chomp!)

In Japanese, actually, Kumo has two definitions–cloud and spider.

Microsoft has been trying to catch up in the search game by spending big-time after it failed to acquire Yahoo (YHOO) last year.

And it still wants to do a search deal with Yahoo, in order to make a dent in the market dominance of Google (GOOG).

Until then, of course, Microsoft must innovate. And, so far, Kumo seems to be an interesting effort with a clean and spare look.

But what do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Also, here is the memo from Microsoft search head Satya Nadella about it, urging all company employees to try it out and send feedback:

From: Satya Nadella
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 4:18 PM
To: Microsoft–All Employees (QBDG)
Subject: Announcement: Internal Search Test Experience

The Search team needs you. We’ve been working hard to improve our search service and want to share the progress we are making with you. We are launching a new test program called kumo.com for employees to try and provide feedback. 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. Kumo is the codename we have chosen for the internal test.

In spite of the progress made by search engines, 40% of queries go unanswered; half of queries are about searchers returning to previous tasks; and 46% of search sessions are longer than 20 minutes. These and many other learnings suggest that customers often don’t find what they need from search today.

We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. During the test, features will vary by country, but you’ll see results organized in a way that saves you more time. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks. Other features like single session history and hover preview help accomplish more in search sessions.

Your Next Search…

To get started, visit kumo.com or click one of the samples below to see how it’s possible to find the right results more easily:

· Audi S8
· Taylor Swift
. Bose Lifestyle 48

You can also set your search defaults to test site using the instructions here.

Your Feedback is Critical

As employees, you are some of our most informed users and our toughest critics, and we highly value your input and feedback to help us build a better service. You have been an important voice in our efforts, and the feedback you’ve sent us since the company meeting has been amazing.

When you visit kumo.com, at the bottom right corner of the each page you’ll see a feedback badge. We ask that each time you use the test site, click the feedback badge and take a moment to answer four quick and simple questions. Feel free to reach out to give us extra feedback directly on our blog and by mailing sfeed. For answers to common questions make sure to see our FAQ.

We are committed to rapid innovation and improvement. Please give the test site a try, rate the results and let us know what you think.


Here are the three screenshots too (click on the images twice to make them larger):

Taylor Swift


Audi S8


Bose Lifestyle 48