Microsoft has agreed to acquire search engine start-up Powerset for an undisclosed sum to strengthen its free Live Search service.
Powerset is working on a new class of web search that tries to understand the meaning of web pages by using technology licensed from Xerox’s PARC subsidiary, which provides a semantic representation of pages by parsing each sentence and extracting its meaning.
Microsoft said Powerset’s staff will join its Search Relevance team. It is planning to integrate Powerset’s technology with some of its own natural-language technology that has been in development at Microsoft Research. The company said the semantic search technology will play an important part in its search engine strategy.
Mark Johnson at Powerset said: With an existing search infrastructure, incredible capital resources, unlimited data, a leading search team, and clear mission to revolutionize the search landscape, Microsoft can rapidly accelerate our progress in building semantic search technology and bringing it to full web scale.
Microsoft acquired Norway-based web search services provider Fast Search and Transfer for about $1.2bn in April, but its $47.5bn bid and a partial deal to acquire Yahoo’s search business for more than $9bn was refused.