This image was lost some time after publication.

In Silicon Valley, if you're not releasing an upgrade, you might as well be dead. So Yahoo is staving off signs of rigor mortis by launching an improved search engine. It promises search suggestions that are marginally less annoying than other search sites' attempts to be helpful, and it also integrates images from Flickr and information from other Yahoo properties. Where the new Yahoo search distinguishes itself is with its suggestions: A search for "valley" suggests "mountains, " a search for "hate" suggests "dislikes" and even "death metal," love" suggests "passion" and "romance." At last, someone in Sunnyvale has found a thesaurus! But where it really shines? For me, it's sports.

Search on a sports team or athlete, and you'll get the latest scores and stats from Yahoo's sports websites, an area where the competition is weak. It's not clear, however, if any of this will boost Yahoo in the score that matters to Wall Street: revenue per search.

As Silicon Alley Insider points out, Yahoo, even before this upgrade, had better search, in that users were more likely to find what they were looking for, and faster, than on Google. But Yahoo still trails in usage. SAI suggests that the problems may lay more in Yahoo's smaller search user base, and possibly less-attractive demographics (more sophisticated users, who latched on to Google early on, are sticking with the search leader out of habit). Yahoo's Panama system, while it may improve search-ad targeting, won't help matters; only getting a larger number of wealthier users will. Improving Yahoo's search may help the people who use Yahoo find things more efficiently. But it's not clear that will actually move the needle on Yahoo's business.