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Microsoft Live Search gets Powerset boost

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Microsoft yesterday revealed how it has begun integrating Powerset’s semantic internet search technology into its own Live Search product.

The software giant reportedly paid $100m for the Silicon Valley startup in July in a - some might say - doomed attempt to challenge Google’s search dominance. Powerset was happy enough to make hay with Redmond, even though it isn't the search engine supremo.

MS has taken three elements from Powerset and knitted them into Live Search. Freebase Answers, improved captions for Wikipedia results, and new related searches are using the web outfit’s down-wid-da-kidz Factz engine.

"All of these projects are currently being ‘flighted’ on Live Search, which means that they are being shown only to a small percentage of users (if you get one, consider yourself lucky!)," Powerset said on a company blog penned by Mark Johnson.

He added that results of the tests would be analysed before Microsoft decides which features will eventually roll into the product. Powerset has also integrated some Live Search tech on its website.

"You’ll notice that we now have ‘related articles’ on Powerset enhanced Wikipedia articles. We’re getting these directly from Live Search," said Johnson.

Microsoft has been searching for meaning over the past few months following Yahoo!'s rejection of its overtures this summer.

The software titan hopes and pleads for a day when Microsoft might eventually out-Google Google. In the meantime it will continue to try and convince Wall Street that it is relevant to the web search biz. Surely that's more than a simple matter of semantics? ®

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