“Real time search” services like search.twitter.com may be all the rage among tech pundits these days, but there’s one place you shouldn’t expect to see the technology deployed: Microsoft’s (MSFT) soon-to-be-relaunched search engine Kumo (or whatever name Microsoft settles on).
Microsoft Search director Stefan Weitz stopped by SAI’s offices yesterday, and told us the Kumo team is thinking in terms of small tweaks — and not to expect anything like real-time search in the Kumo release. “It’s got to be an evolutionary step,” Stefan told us.
“As far as real-time search is concerned, I have no idea. It’s one of those things people are endlessly talking about right now,” Stefan said. But he ruled it out for now, saying Microsoft doesn’t want to scare off users by introducing any dramatic changes to what people expect from the search engine experience.
“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.
We have no doubt Kumo will probably be better than Microsoft’s current search. And it very well may prove to be more useful than Google (GOOG) or Yahoo (YHOO) in some respects.
But since Microsoft is fundamentally being conservative with Kumo, the success or failure of Kumo will ride on the business side’s shoulders: Be it initiatives like the inevitable rebranding, cashback, or more distribution deals.
No wonder Microsoft sounds increasingly eager for a deal with Yahoo.