Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

Summary: The rumors accumulating over the past few months were true: Microsoft has purchased natural-language search vendor Powerset for an undisclosed amount.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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The rumors accumulating over the past few months were true: Microsoft has purchased natural-language search vendor Powerset for an undisclosed amount.

Microsoft announced the deal on July 1. Microsoft is planning to use Powerset's people and technology to "take Search to the next level by adding understanding of the Internet and meaning behind the words in searches and webpages," according to a post on the Live Search blog.

More from that posting by Satya Nadella, Senior Vice President of Search, Portal and Advertising:

"Powerset will join our core Search Relevance team, remaining intact in San Francisco. Powerset brings with it natural language technology that nicely complements other natural language processing technologies we have in Microsoft Research."

Some have taken to referring to Microsoft's purchase of Powerset as a piece of Microsoft's "Plan B" following the breakdown in acquisition talks between Microsoft and Yahoo.

(I noticed  Richard Sprague, Senior Director of Marketing in the Microsoft Research  Incubation team, hint via a blog post last week that his team had had some interesting interactions with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates just before Gates retired. Given Sprague's areas of focus, perhaps he was referring to Powerset.)

What do you think: Is the Powerset acquisition a good first move for Microsoft after the dissolution of the Yahoo deal?

Topic: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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15 comments
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  • Yes, It is..

    I think it is a right move.. Google's monopoly over search comes from the fact it has a great software (the search engine). That's it, plain and simple.
    Only if Microsoft can offer better search results, then it can compute with Google.
    Offering money, agreeing with enterprises to force users to try Live search, and even buying Yahoo is not gonna help Microsoft compute with Google like building a great product will.
    amreldib
    • It's not the Microsoft way

      Their way is to have shoddy products slapped together whilst they create strategies to force them down people's throat, as you mentioned.
      fr0thy2
  • Innovation must be too expensive

    I detect a lack of faith in, if not contempt for MS own search people.
    John L. Ries
    • My guess it is a more specialized field

      as not everone can develop an OS or office suite, I guess search, too, may be specialized in it's own regards.
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • They should concentrate on getting their cash cows right

        though I do prefer them as they are : weak at everything, a Jack of All Trades as it were ...
        fr0thy2
      • Actually...

        Seems that lots of people nowadays can develop operating systems or office suites (particularly the latter), but that's off topic.
        John L. Ries
  • RE: Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

    Hi,

    I say it is simple theft of other people's property.
    See www.tsert.com/white-papers/nlp.pdf

    Regards
    pierreir
    • Did Powerset steal your idea?

      Is Powerset using your algorithms and IP?
      Roque Mocan
  • RE: Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

    There's no good evidence at all that Powerset represents a meaningful improvement over Google/Yahoo search. So no, the deal is not a good move for Microsoft - call it plan D for desperate.
    bentoth
  • RE: Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

    Just did a search with it and it was very focused and attractive layout,definatly one if you want a tight search not slightly scattergun,now if MS gets the web database that Google has then only good to come of this for us and MS.
    morrigen
    • Example searches are ok, BUT

      the last couple times I tried a real search, I couldn't
      disambiguate the results. This was on a political topic that
      was in Wikipedia. Sorry that I can't come up with specifics;
      after the second failed attempt, I put PowerSet out of my
      mind. Perhaps the information was too timely? I don't really
      know.

      I think that semantic search has a great future; though I don't
      think a MSFT acquisition will help.
      warren@...
  • RE: Confirmed: Microsoft buys Powerset natural-language search

    MJF: Read article and thought you didn't get beat up today...congrats!!!!...Can't help respond to one reply...Think about it..When MS buys a product from another company, it's not the same as when you or I buy a product (OS) from MS..THEY retain the rights to the the OS.. and WE JUST "RENT IT"...Don"t believe me...Read the License terms--COMPLETELY sometime...Mary Jane...Is there a ZD blog somewhere just on non-MS so I can get on there and "Show my A**" like some of the replies I read to you blogs????
    Sleep well...puppadave
    puppadave
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