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Microsoft tests new search engine technology

Microsoft has confirmed it is testing a new search engine called Kumo, based on technology from its Powerset acquisition, that is likely to be an early version of a soon-to-be-rebranded Live Search product. Microsoft added that it has “nothing new to announce at this time.” However, the company has been rumored for some time to be renaming its Live Search “Kumo” based on a December trademark application it made for the name and related URLs it has registered. Though it would not specifically confirm this move, the company did say Tuesday that the Kumo engine being tested shows a number of technologies in development and is a very early internal preview of directions being explored for its search engine.

Apple beats Intel to chip launch

Apple on Tuesday jumped ahead of Intel in launching the chip maker’s quad-core Xeon chips, announcing two workstations that carry the upcoming processors. Intel hasn’t officially announced the launch of the chips, but Apple has started taking orders for new Mac Pro workstations that are powered by Xeon 3500 and 5500 quad-core chips. The chips are part of the Nehalem-EP line for dual-socket servers and workstations and are based on Intel’s new Nehalem microarchitecture. More server vendors may soon follow in Apple’s footsteps by launching servers and workstations with the chips.

Obama picks FCC chairman

President Barack Obama Tuesday nominated Julius Genachowski as chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Genachowski, who has been an adviser to Obama, was considered a leading contender to be tapped as the nation’s next FCC chairman. He previously was chief counsel to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and was special counsel to FCC General Counsel William Kennard, who also later served as chairman. Genachowski, who is an advocate of network neutrality, has a wide range of experience in legal circles and also in technology. The president is allowed to appoint the FCC chair, but the five-member commission can’t be made up of more than three members of his party. If Genachowski is confirmed, he will form a majority along with Democrats Michael Copps — currently acting chairman — and Jonathan Adelstein.

Former HP CEO recovering after surgery

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and a prominent supporter of the U.S. Republican Party, had surgery for breast cancer on Monday. The surgery was successful and Fiorina has an “excellent” chance of making a full recovery, Deborah Bowker, her spokeswoman, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Following 20 years at AT&T and Lucent, Fiorina served as president and CEO of HP from 1999 to 2005. She executed HP’s controversial takeover of Compaq and was widely criticized for the move, although some have since judged the deal a success. After disagreements with the board over the acquisition, as well as how to revive HP’s flagging business, Fiorina was forced out of the company in 2005. She was the first and, so far, only woman to head a Fortune 20 company.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

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