Ballmer Promising A Kumo Microsoft Won't Deliver?

Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer today said the new Microsoft Search (maybe branded “Kumo,” maybe not) will gain ground on Google (GOOG) because it can “experiment,” reports Bloomberg,

It’s an interesting idea, but this is what Microsoft Search Director Stefan Weitz told SAI in an interview last week:

“It’s got to be an evolutionary step,” Stefan told us.

“I don’t know how you get to a population that’s big using something that’s brand new,” Stefan said. He named Cuil, for one — with its three-column layout — as a search engine that belly-flopped by trying to do something novel with search.

“The [search] interface hasn’t changed that much in 12 years when you think about it,” Stefan said.

So what will be new with Kumo? Microsoft plans to “make results human-readable,” “reduce clickbacks,” and focus on people’s “key tasks” like travel or hyper-local results.

Tweaks.

So we’re not expecting nearly as much “experimentation” as Steve may be promising. Wouldn’t be the only time Microsoft’s search team and its chief didn’t see eye-to-eye: Yesterday Steve also made fun of the name “Kumo.”

Where then, will Kumo/whatever gain ground? A rebrand — followed by an ad blitz — may be good for a few points of market share right off the bat. Distribution deals will also help.

And while we’re a bit sceptical of the idea that Microsoft will invent all sorts of things Google can’t/won’t do, Stefan struck us as a very bright guy, and we’re looking forwards to seeing what his team will deliver when the new Microsoft search goes public.

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