Microsoft may be getting ready to unveil Kumo, its new search engine, at next week’s All Things D conference in California. PC World reports:
(Leaked Kumo screenshots)…show a three-column search results page featuring useful tools like related searches, a single-session search history for quick backtracking, and a set of search categories that relate directly to your query. Searches for a musical artist, for example, would bring up search categories like song lyrics, tickets, albums and the artist’s biography, while searching for a product would bring up categories for images, reviews and manuals.
Kumo’s search categories that relate directly to your query sound a lot like semantic search to me–the ability for a computer to understand exactly what you are looking for based on your natural language query. Last year, Microsoft bought the semantic search engine Powerset, and Redmond has likely incorporated Powerset’s capabilities into Kumo. In March, Google unveiled its own semantic capabilities for search, and last week, the much anticipated semantic “answer machine” Wolfram Alpha debuted. Wolfram Alpha is geared towards fact-based information and not indexing Web pages like Google or Live Search, but it shows that semantic capability is becoming the next major leap forward in search and for computers in general. No one has quite mastered semantic search yet, but they’re getting closer.
Ian Paul, who wrote the PC World article, ends it with this statement:
…will Kumo fly up the search market charts or end up going bing, bong, splat?
So far, every Microsoft search product has hit the ground…and stayed there. Unless Kumo does something really special to outclass both Google’s updated engine and Wolphram Alpha, the same thing will happen again.