Microsoft Turning Japanese with Kumo?

Microsoft's acquisition of the domain, which means "cloud" or "spider" in Japanese, is a signal to some that Kumo will be the brand name for the re-launched Windows Live Search feature, which has lagged far behind competitors such as Google and Yahoo.

Several reports over the weekend revealed Microsoft has registered the domain name, which sent the blogosphere into a frenzy of speculation as to whether Kumo, which means "spider" or "cloud" in Japanese, will be the new face of Windows Live Search. Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to re-brand and re-launch the search feature.

Microsoft is so far keeping quiet on the registration and has not responded to blogger inquires as to whether the name has anything to do with a Live Search re-boot. However, the news does come on the heels of Google's SearchWiki announcement, which garnered a large amount of interest on Friday. The SearchWiki feature allows users logged into their Google accounts the ability to rearrange search results based on their preferences, not just keyword recognition.
Interestingly, Microsoft had proclaimed in a July release that the company was "passionate about improving search intelligence [because] keyword-based search lags in accuracy." It was part of a release in which Microsoft announced it would acquire Powerset, a "natural language" search engine start-up based in San Francisco, for north of $100 million.
Powerset created a search technology that bases search on an attempt to understand the full meanings of entered phrases and return results. "About a third of searchers don't get answers on their first try, and have to perform multiple searches in order to find the information they are looking for," the release stated. "Microsoft's acquisition of Powerset is an exciting step in the right direction in resolving these issues."
These latest reports also suggest Microsoft plans to focus on re-energizing its own search brand rather than acquire Yahoo's search assets...somewhat. Last Friday, Microsoft confirmed it hired Yahoo Search executive Sean Suchter to work on Live Search at Microsoft's Silicon Valley Search Technology Center, where he will serve as general manager.