Microsoft and Yahoo! ready strategy to take on Google

LONDON - Microsoft is ready to launch its newest search engine, code named Kumo, while Yahoo! revealed it wants to restructure as the two attempt to take the wind out of Google's sails.

In the wake of Google's Searchology conference at its Mountain View HQ where the company introduced a swathe of new search features, Yahoo! followed suit with an event of its own this week where it revealed plans to change search.

With a thinly-veiled jab at Google, the company has declared war on the "10 blue links", or the standardized text-heavy search results page.

Instead, Yahoo! envisions the web as a series of "objects" as opposed to "pages", making for a more engaging user experience. The company said people do not want pages and pages of results, they want relevancy.

For example, when searching for a restaurant, instead of links to the venue's main website followed by a collection of other algorithmically decided results, Yahoo! sees a capsule of relevant information, including reviews, opening hours, contact information, pictures, etc.

Yahoo! spoke of arranging the "about-ness" of a search, for example an image search for Paris would return pictures for Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

The company gave further examples to reporters. A search for Beyonce displayed the singer's home page, but also a list of albums and links to tracks hosted on its music site Rhapsody, which allowed for direct streaming from the results page.

The project is part of Yahoo!'s Search Monkey project, now a year old and still under testing. It allows companies to send Yahoo! the data they want to be included in their search results.

Analysts say it's a great idea, though not exactly original, and undoubtedly a monumental task -- cross-indexing billions of HTML snippets.

Yahoo! was tight-lipped about just how much of the web it has been able to corral and classify as it sees fit, but did say that Search Monkey was responsible for a 413% growth in "structured" data over the past year.

At Microsoft Kumo, its new search engine and companion to Live, is ready and is expected to be rolled out next week. It has been designed to better organise search results, much in the same vein as Yahoo!'s Search Monkey.

Kumo has been in development and private testing for months, but is expected to make its debut at the D: All Things Digital technology conference, hosted by the Wall Street Journal next week.

A number of unauthorised screenshots were leaked two months ago, which showed Kumo returning grouped results for a search query about a new car, including separate tabs for parts, used car listings, online forums, specs and video.

Microsoft plans to heavily promote Kumo in a major advertising campaign created by JWT.

Despite Microsoft and Yahoo!'s relationship history, the two have a common rival in Google.

According to ComScore, Google gained search market share in April, up half a point to 64.2%, while Microsoft (8.2%) and Yahoo! (20.4%) both fell.

That was prior to Google's Searchology conference, where it unveiled a number of search products, allowing customisable queries for finely tuned results, similar to Microsoft and Yahoo!'s yet-to-be-realised search engines.

Going against the grain, Google also gave a preview of Google Squared, to be released by the end of the month -- hinted as one of Google's more ambitious products.

In Google Squared, search results would show up in a spreadsheet format rather than a typical top-to-bottom links page, with an emphasis on pure information rather than just related content.

Dan Leahul recommends


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