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Microsoft will purchase Powerset

by on27 June 2008


Semantic-type search engine

Apparently Microsoft decided that since things had gone sour with Yahoo! it would purchase another search engine to team with.  Microsoft had about $50 million burning a hole in its pocket already due to the failed Yahoo acquisition, so the rumored purchase price of a tad more than $100 million for Powerset looks like a bargain.

The official purchase announcement is expected in July.  Powerset is located in California’s Silicon Valley, and the best part of this deal is that Steve Ballmer doesn’t have to deal with Jerry Yang.

Powerset uses a technology that is semantic-based, meaning that it attempts to understand the entire meaning of phrases while it searches, and delivers results based on this principle. In contrast, Google’s search results are primarily based on individual words typed into the search bar, even when joined with “and” or “or.”

Natural language is a concept that computer technology has not yet mastered, in large part because of its complexity and wide range of variance. Powerset did launch its service last month to the public and it can be searched within Wikipedia.

Microsoft sees increasing its market share in search engines, “The most important application for the foreseeable future,” according to Steve Ballmer. “We don’t have to dominate, but we’d better have a darn good chunk of the search market over time, and we’re working away at it.” Additionally, Microsoft has just rolled out a new program known as “Cashback” that offers cash incentives back to users of its Live Search engine.

Powerset Chief Executive, Barney Pell, declined comment. It is believed that he owns over a third of the company currently.

Last modified on 27 June 2008
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