RealTime IT News

Ballmer Readies Debut of Kumo, er, Bing

Microsoft this week plans to debut its new search engine and the strategy behind it, but its choice for a new name -- reportedly "Bing" -- may already be taken. Whatever the new moniker, however, AdvertisingAge is reporting Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) plans to invest $100 million to promote the new branding.

The announcement of the replacement for Microsoft's Live Search will come at this year's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. -- even though that bit of news was revealed last week by the conference sponsors' site.

CEO Steve Ballmer will introduce the new, or updated, search technology at D, the same venue where he introduced the company's Surface computer.

Meanwhile, several news sites report that Microsoft last week registered to set up a "limited liability corporation" or LLC, in Delaware, often the first step before a takeover bid or the start of a joint venture with another firm. That alone caused rumors to begin flying as to whether Microsoft is preparing to buy out remote connectivity stalwart Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS) or to set up a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO).

"This is Microsoft taking Google to the mat [and it's] going to be highly contested," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, told InternetNews.com.

"[Users] aren't comfortable with change, so Microsoft doesn't have to be better than Google; it's got to be best," he added.

So far, however, Microsoft has been quiet about its latest search plans.

The announcements come as Microsoft is readying a new assault against its search nemesis -- Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). However, they also have to be viewed from the perspective of last year's failed hostile bid for, first, all of Yahoo and, later, just the firm's search business. Lately, Microsoft senior executives have repeatedly, and publicly, expressed their desire for some kind of collaboration with Yahoo.

New Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has not publicly indicated whether she is in favor of such a deal or not. What causes the rumor pot to boil even hotter, though, is the fact that Bartz is also on the bill to speak at this year's conference. Ever since the approach towards Yahoo tanked last summer, every whisper that the two companies may be talking again generates new waves of speculation about a potential deal.

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