Microsoft Plans to Acquire Powerset to Aid Live Search

June 27th, 2008 at 12:00 am


Microsoft is planning to acquire semantic search engine Powerset for a whopping $100 million (though lose change for the software giant).  Having failed to acuire Yahoo, Microsoft has been on a shopping spree to beef up its services.  Powerset, the latest Microsoft acquisition, is a natural language search engine that analyzes questions instead of keywords in a search query.

The acquisition of Powerset is intended to beef up Microsoft’s own struggling search engine Live Search which ranks at number three trailing Yahoo and Google at the top spot with more than 60% of the search market.

As a natural language or semantic search engine, Powerset focuses its attention on Wikipedia articles instead of every other article on the web.  It is, one can say, a Wikipedia search engine.  However, aside from just searching Wikipedia, Powerset also has technologies that analyze questions instead of just keywords. hence the "semantic" in its description.

Microsoft’s Live search could definitely use this technology especially because first time PC users are introduced to internet explorer with Live search as the default search engine and would not really know the difference between a Google search and a semantic search like Powerset.