Microsoft is still playing catch up to Google’s prowess in the search department, and holding true to the past, as it’s buying start-ups that will provide leaps in innovation. All hands are bared in this race, PowerSet was just bought out by Microsoft a little over a month ago and its technology is already showing up in Live search results.
PowerSet entered the search industry claiming its engine would focus on answering questions more than finding content related to specific keywords. The general idea is for PowerSet to “understand” what a user is searching for- and filter results appropriately.
Microsoft obviously sees value in integrating that technology with its Live search because the acquisition just took place on July 1, 2008.
Many of the features PowerSet is adding to Microsoft Live search sound familiar. For example, additional suggested search terms and integration with Wikipedia. PowerSet is also pulling ideas from the Live team, integrating a new twist on finding related Wikipedia articles.
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!). Once we’ve gotten data back from the tests, we’ll plan next steps and decide what features will eventually roll into the product, according to the PowerSet blog.
On an interesting side note, PowerSet has also provided a Ubiquity command that allows you to use the search engine from anywhere within Firefox. Just visit the front page with Ubiquity installed and Firefox will prompt to install it.
Some of PowerSet’s focus seems similar to Ask’s, which also used to focus on answering questions especially when it was named AskJeeves. Still, it seems to have some new ideas on remixing content from Wikipedia, and innovation is what Microsoft needs right now. Any improvements in the search engine space has the potential to affect people worldwide in a big way, so it’s good to see the ongoing competition.