A peek at Kumo

Tue 26 May 2009 08:59, Bas van den Beld

A peek at Kumo

So with Wolfram Alpha another possible 'Google killer' turned out not to be so lethal after all. At SMX last week someone asked the panel I was in if we saw a possible Google killer on the horizon. My answer was simple: the only thing that can kill Google is Google itself.

However, it's good to have some competitions. The numbers presented on SMX last week show that in Europe the Google dominance is starting to be so big it's close to being a monopoly. We don't need a Google killer but we need a good alternative. Wolfram Alpha is nice to have around, but the new Microsoft search engine, codename Kumo, might just be that one alternative which will take away some of the dominance of Google.

Our very own cowboy Jon Myers was one of the people who got a demo of Kumo. However he had to swear to reveal nothing, and as a good cowboy he kept his word. When the new search engine launches, supposedly very soon, he will give an update on his experiences on the new engine. However luckily we don't have to depend on only Jon when trying to find out more about Kumo. There are several sources who have either hinted or actually written about the features of the new search engine. So here's a little peek at Kumo.

Kumo will be a completely different search engine than the existing Windows Live engine Microsoft is using now. There is one thing though which is the same on both: the emphasis on image and videos. I've always been a fan of Live's image search and Kumo presumably will also be strong in this area.

Kumo will have a slightly different lay out than were are used to. Instead of the well known two columns Kumo will get three. The middle column will be reserved for the search results, while the right column will serve up ads.

The left column is the new one. This column will contain related searches and a single-session search history. An interesting feature on the left hand side will be the search categories, categories which are directly related to the searches your making. For example if you are looking for a song one of the categories might be lyrics, another might be tickets. A search for "iPhone" will result in apps you can download via the left side navigation.

This feature is a very interesting one because it will narrow down searches making your search more efficient.


Microsoft isn't relying on ads the way Google is. They simply don't need the money. That is one of the reasons why the focus has never really been on these ads. Serving up relevant ads has therefore never been very good at Microsoft. Apparentley the new Kumo will be a lot better at it. Having relevant ads could be one of the main success factors for a search engine. If you have enough advertisers it will probably mean you will get a lot of visitors too.

Content preview
Another interesting feature might be "Content preview" with which you can see a page before even visiting it. This feature is known to Firefox users as a plugin but Kumo will automatically be integrating this.

All in all we probably can expect a lot of Kumo. I know I'm looking forward to it.

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