Ya-Who? Seems Microsoft has already forgotten the Sunnyvale search engine.
Microsoft has agreed to buy Powerset, the semantic search engine touted as the next generation of search. Powerset is the much-hyped beta natural language search engine that the metaphor-challenged mainstream media call the Google Killer. That means you can type questions in a search box the way you normally ask them. (Think Ask Jeeves 1.5)
That doesn't mean natural language search or Powerset can kill Google, or even commit assault and battery on Google.
Powerset launched with a smart concept: better search results than Wikipedia's own search box. So the play is a "non-Google Custom Search Engine" for Wikipedia. Let's see about what Powerset can can do.
What's interesting is that Microsoft appears to have purchased Powerset as much for the software engineers as the software.
From the Live Search blog:
More importantly, Powerset brings to Live Search a set of talented engineers and computational linguists in downtown San Francisco. This is a great team with a wide range of experience from other search engines and research organizations like PARC (formerly Xerox PARC).
We're buying Powerset first and foremost because we're impressed with the people there.
Microsoft shares our goal to improve search through deeper analysis of queries and documents, and understands that our technology and expertise will play a key role in the evolution of search. 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. When we launched our first product, we heard: this is great, but when and how will we get Powerset to go beyond Wikpiedia? Microsoft accelerates our ability to move Powerset to the entire Web faster than anyone could have imagined.
Powerset will continue to operate much as we currently do, working in the same building, with the same organizational structure, and with the same uniquely talented and growing team (apply on our jobs page). We'll continue to tackle the hardest problems in parsing, semantics, ranking, indexing, scalable computing, user experience and all of our other specialties. But now we'll do it with the support of Microsoft and the vast resources of the entire Live Search team.