Microsoft acquires Powerset – Mainstream search goes to the next level

After much ho-humming around whether Microsoft would or would-not acquire Powerset, the deal is now done and announced over on the Live Search blog. Though the price has not been announced, ReadWriteWeb were running with a rumour a few days back saying it was at the $100m range.

For those who’ve missed all the recent coverage about Powerset, its a natural language search engine, allowing users to phrase their query how they would naturally write. Stop and think for a second about how you use Google or Live Search.

Are you using sentences, or carefully chosen keywords?

There’s a video demo of Powerset, which gives a great introduction to the company’s technology.

Powerset Demo Video from officialpowerset on Vimeo.

So what does this acquisition do for Microsoft’s search ambitions? Well it gives them a leg-up on Google, who were rumoured to be trying to acquire Powerset for themselves, but as we’ve seen for several months now, Microsoft’s technology and relevance is already on-par with Google’s. The key aspect again comes back to marketing and conversion of users, something that no amount of technology acquisitions will solve quickly. Then again, Microsoft looks like its in it for the long-term, and is now starting to get out of 1st gear. Disrupting search indeed.