As you may have heard, Microsoft is now internally testing a new search engine codenamed "Kumo." Here's the text of the internal email announcing this to Microsoft employees yesterday:

From: Satya Nadella

Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 4:18 PM

To: Microsoft - All Employees (QBDG)

Subject: Announcement: Internal Search Test Experience

The Search team needs you. We've been working hard to improve our search service and want to share the progress we are making with you. We are launching a new test program called kumo.com for employees to try and provide feedback. Kumo.com exists only inside the corporate network, and in order to get enough feedback we will be redirecting internal live.com traffic over to the test site in the coming days. Kumo is the codename we have chosen for the internal test.

In spite of the progress made by search engines, 40 percent of queries go unanswered; half of queries are about searchers returning to previous tasks; and 46 percent of search sessions are longer than 20 minutes. These and many other learnings suggest that customers often don't find what they need from search today.

We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. During the test, features will vary by country, but you'll see results organized in a way that saves you more time. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks. Other features like single session history and hover preview help accomplish more in search sessions.

Your Next Search...

To get started, visit kumo.com or click one of the samples below to see how it's possible to find the right results more easily:

As employees, you are some of our most informed users and our toughest critics, and we highly value your input and feedback to help us build a better service. You have been an important voice in our efforts, and the feedback you've sent us since the company meeting has been amazing.

When you visit kumo.com, at the bottom right corner of the each page you'll see a feedback badge. We ask that each time you use the test site, click the feedback badge and take a moment to answer four quick and simple questions. Feel free to reach out to give us extra feedback directly on our blog and by mailing (an internal alias). For answers to common questions make sure to see our FAQ.

We are committed to rapid innovation and improvement. Please give the test site a try, rate the results and let us know what you think.

- Satya

CNET also has an interesting screenshot of Kumo:

The big question, of course is ... who cares? Can Microsoft ever really regain lost ground in this market? I don't think they can, to be honest. And I'm wondering if continued investment here isn't just a huge waste of time.