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Google, the iconic search engine company, is branching out into discussion boards, with the acquisition of Deja.com's moribund discussion service for an undisclosed sum.

At the same time, the company is providing a useful public service, as among other things, it is acquiring the Deja.com's archived discussions. Deja last year indicated its intention to delete archived messages. Google is reformatting all the information to speed up access and searching. And it is to re-instate the ability to post.

Google also gains software, domain names including deja.com and dejanews.com, company trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Google is to extend its search capabilities to Usenet. You can trawl through six months' Usenet messages through the beta at groups.google.com.

With the Deja Usenet archive added, users will be able to access 500 million messages, Google says.

New York-based Deja.com made 50 people redundant - about a third of its employees in September last year, amid reports the company was running out of cash. In October, the privately-held company sold its Austin, TX-based 'precision buying' service, to Half.com, an eBay subsidiary, for an undisclosed sum.

With the sale of its Usenet business, it is unclear what if anything is now left of the company. ®

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