Fast forward to this week and Microsoft suddenly showed its hand. Control of the Kumo.com domain was moved from the registrar to Microsoft, and is now pointing to an internal Microsoft test site (employees only).
You can test this out at home by firing up the command prompt (type “cmd” in the Vista start box) and then type “tracert kumo.com”. You’ll see the route to the end location go through a few msn.com servers, and then suddenly you’ll notice all those asterisks, which is where Kumo.com becomes available for internal use only.
It doesn’t help that “Kumo” means both “spider” and “cloud” in Japanese. It also doesn’t help that Microsoft has finally started admitting that “Windows Live Search” is an awful brand–at least one that will never inspire the same “cool” factor as Google. But Kumo? Really?
I’m not buying it. First of all, Kumo has too many different spelling errors just waiting to happen–koomo, cumo. Second, Microsoft’s biggest problem is not the brand name, it’s the branding. Sure, Live Search sucks as a brand name, but what has Microsoft ever done to try to convince us that Live Search is cool, useful, and worthy of our Google-clicks?
If Kumo does, in fact, become the new brand for Live Search, I hope Microsoft realizes that at this point in time, Kumo inspires nothing in us. Four letters does not a great search engine make! There had better be a huge move away from the vanilla offering of past Microsoft search efforts, and some kind of campaign that goes well beyond throwing Jerry Seinfeld on TV.