Microsoft plans later this week to begin internal testing of Kumo, a long-anticipated update to its Live Search product, CNET News has learned.
Ultimately, Kumo is designed to be both a rebranding and an update for Live Search, although at this point Microsoft is describing it as "an internal test environment."
"Kumo is the name of an internal test environment we are launching to a small sampling of employees...this week," a Microsoft representative told CNET. Kumo had been long rumored to be a possible name for the Live Search rebranding.
Word that Microsoft was close to launching the new search tool began with a Twitter posting by Powerset co-founder Barney Pell, who now serves as a "search strategist and evangelist" for Microsoft. In the posting, reported by enthusiast site LiveSide, Pell did not mention the Kumo name, but said that the site was getting an updated user interface and new brand.
"Barney was referring to our internal testing environments," the Microsoft representative said, adding that the company had nothing to announce today. "We are not in a position to confirm what will come to the market or when." Microsoft acquired Pell's Powerset in July.
Kumo is separate from another search tool being offered to employees by Microsoft Research. That tool, shown last week at TechFest and known as Viveri, uses the Live Search engine in combination with new visualization and vertical search technologies.
"They are different but they are complementary," the Microsoft representative said.
Meanwhile, Search Engine Land also noted a couple of changes on the public Live Search site, including "best match" and "categorized listings" options.
"We regularly test or 'flight' new features for a small subset of searchers," Microsoft said. "The purpose of these flights is to gauge customer response and collect data, which may or may not lead to eventual integration into the larger service."