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Microsoft Confirms Live Search Overhaul, But Will It Be Enough?

image*Microsoft* CEO Steve Ballmer recently conceded that it would be difficult for the company to gain ground in search without a *Yahoo* partnership this year — but that’s not stopping the company from trying everything to get people to use Live Search, including overhauling it.

There have been rumors about a possible rebranding of Live Search since mid-2008, when ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley broke the news that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) was down to three possible choices for a name change: Bing, Hook and Kumo; the speculation increased once the Live Side blog discovered that Microsoft had bought the domain in November and was using it for internal testing.

Now, a Tweet (of all things) confirms that the overhaul is real: Microsoft search strategist Barney Pell leaked that he’d “played with” the to-be-relaunched Live Search beta (per the Seattle P-I); Live Side adds details on some of the other features in the relaunch, including a running “search history” module, categorized listings and a new font. But for Live Search, Kumo, or whatever it will be called to attract a significant influx of users, the changes will need to be more than cosmetic, Microsoft has to improve the underlying search technology — boosting both the speed, relevance and depth of its results — to get people to stay on past the initial “wow, this is a cool rebrand” phase. Microsoft is currently a very distant third in search behind Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo.

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