Microsoft is getting ready to launch a new version of its Internet search engine. The software giant will roll out its latest effort next week, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft plans to offer its first public demonstration of the new search engine at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. The Journal organizes that annual conference.
"Microsoft will demo the new engine and the new brand will be known by the D conference," confirmed Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "But the engine probably won't be live for the public until somewhat later, perhaps the first week of June. This is my speculation, not official timing notification."
Taking Kumo Live
The Journal reports Microsoft has been testing the new search engine, code-named Kumo, internally for months. It aims to organize search results better so consumers can spend less time clicking around Web pages looking for answers.
Details about Kumo emerged in an internal memo that was leaked in March. Satya Nadella, head of research at Microsoft's online services division, sent the memo via e-mail with the subject line "Internal Search Test Experience."
Nadella's memo contained with some compelling statistics. According to his research, in spite of the progress made by search engines, 40 percent of queries go unanswered. What's more, he reported, half of queries are about searchers returning to previous tasks and 46 percent of search sessions are longer than 20 minutes. His conclusion: Customers often don't find what they need from search.
"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," Nadella wrote. "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."
Microsoft ranks a distant third in the search-engine wars. Nearly 65 percent of the searches conducted in April were on Google, according to comScore. Yahoo placed second in the monthly rankings at 20.4 percent, while Microsoft came in third with 8.2 percent. Beyond the top three, IAC/Interactive's Ask.com and Time Warner's AOL ranked fourth and fifth with under five percent of the total searches in April.
With no Yahoo search-engine deal in place as the second quarter nears an end, Microsoft is hoping Kumo helps it gain some ground from the competition. Sterling is watching to see how the market will respond to Microsoft's latest innovation.
"I've been using the engine, and it's definitely an improvement over Live Search. What will be as interesting as the launch itself will be to see how Microsoft tries to position and market the search engine," Sterling said. "There's a fascinating challenge there for the company in going up against Google. It's a little like Pepsi vs Coke."