Darren Waters

Microsoft still searching for solutions

  • Darren Waters
  • 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.

MicrosoftFor 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)."


  • Comment number 1.

    With MS so keen to compete in the search arena they must just be waiting for the next opportunity to go after Yahoo, or maybe waiting for one of the smaller search engines to become available.

    It's hard to see how they can cover that much ground to compete with Google just be revamping their search engine... surely this requires more of a Hearts & Minds campaign. MS is always going to be seen as the big bad wolf by many, and the opportunity to rebel against the corporate machine is just too aluring for a significant percentage of net users... the rest will be dragged along based on peer recommendation and media coverage.

  • Comment number 2.

    The only reason I use Google is because it's quick, easy and doesn't over complicate things.
    All the new search engines coming out try to offer above and beyond basic searching. I don't care, I just want to be able to write words in a box and, in a second or two, get webpages which are related to those words. I don't want a left hand pane which allows me to drill down my search. I want to be taken to the website and be in roughly the right place so that I can find the correct information I need.
    The only way Google can be beaten is if they make a monumetal slip up and change their page too much, alienating their users and losing them to other search solutions.

  • Comment number 3.

    Its got nothign to do with big bad wolf, it's that other than Google there is no other search engine out there that the masses of once a week users will have heared of.

    If MS want search users then they should go a different route and actually advertise their engine via traditional media like TV and readio.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites