- 3 Mar 09, 14:34 GMT
Anyone who thinks that search is a 'done deal' ought to remember that half of all Google's engineers work in the field of search. The future of search is the line on the horizon that is forever beyond our grasp.
For some, that horizon is further away than for others. Take Microsoft, for example: it is expending an enormous amount of effort in trying to close the gap between itself and Google because there is a lot of money to be made from search.
But Microsoft remains a very distant competitor in the race. In the latest comScore figures for search in the US, Microsoft claims 8% of the market, while Google has 63%.
In the past it has tried offering money back to users who use its search engine to look for and buy products online.
Its latest effort - albeit an internal search engine right now - is called Kumo. Kara Swisher, over at All Things Digital, has some screenshots and analysis.
She's not alone: an internal memo about Kumo has managed to fall into the hands of lots of different tech sites, which might suggest Microsoft is putting out feelers in terms of audience response.
Kumo is the planned successor for Live Search, Microsoft's current search engine and the one failing so obviously to put a dent in Google.
The biggest changes would appear to be grouped searches around topics, and the ability to drill down and refine searches in a left hand pane.
Over at Search Engine Land Danny Sullivan notes:
"This type of classification or "drill down" into results isn't new. It's years old, tried by players such as Clusty, not to mention Google offer types of refinement right now plus Yahoo talked about this type of task-based refinement being in the works."
He concludes: "I don't mean to downplay the features shown. This is a testing site, and we're only dealing with screenshots, rather than playing with how the refinement actually works. Perhaps it will be killer.
"Certainly, Microsoft should be experimenting with both new and old ideas and is in a good position to do so, since unlike Google, it doesn't run the risk of potentially scaring off users with something they might find weird or scary (since it has so fewer seachers than Google)."
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