Microsoft buys travel search site

Pays real money

Warning: aircraft

Microsoft has bought Farecast - a travel search site which finds flights for you and, if you're flying from some US cities, can also tell you if the price is likely to go up or down in future.

Farecast has worked with MSN since 2007, but a three line blogpost from president and CEO Hugh Crean yesterday revealed it had gone to Microsoft.

Microsoft said in a statement: "We are pleased to announce that we have acquired Farecast, a Seattle-based smart travel search engine, and we welcome them to the Microsoft family. Farecast has been a partner of ours on MSN Travel and we look forward to working closely with the Farecast team to incorporate and apply its technology in new and interesting ways.".

The site makes predictions on future price changes to flights based on a University of Washington research project. It collects millions of flight details every day and uses them to create predictive models using visualisations and animations.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which broke the story, valued the deal at between $75m and $115m.

Farecast's website tells us: "We are committed to using open source technologies: Linux/Unix/OS X, Tomcat, Java, JSP, Perl, MySQL, Spring Framework, to name a few. Since we have so much data, we use a lot of very fast, very large storage solutions. We also crunch a lot of numbers creating statistical measures and predictive models.

"As such, we use grid technology to cluster racks of dual-processor, 64-bit commodity hardware boxes to make our daily amount of massive calculations more manageable."

We're sure that will go over well with The Beast.®

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