The rumors were true. Microsoft is buying Powerset, the San Francisco-based semantic search startup. The deal was announced late this morning on the official Live Search blog. "Powerset brings with it natural language technology that nicely complements other natural language processing technologies we have in Microsoft Research …
I very much doubt google don't have something up their sleave. I played with Powerset a bit a few weeks back and wasn't massively impressed. Sure, it was quite interesting, but it couldn't really answer questions definitively, it could just point at wikipedia articles which might contain the answer... People seem to be pretty happy with Google as it is, I very rarely have an issue with using Google...
Most approaches to using semantics vis-a-vis the web integrate a set of developing markup tags to provide semantic relevance and underlying meaning to the raw text.
I very much appreciate any effort to accomplish semantic relevance goals using natural language parsing. It will be very interesting to see how far Powerset's algorithms can go, if Microsoft is truly serious about advancing the technology.
Then again, it's quite possible that natural language parsing will not be up to the task for many years, particularly with regard to languages other than English, and with documents that use less-than-perfect grammar. Markup tags work around those two issues. We'll see if Microsoft has (or can find and hire) the talent to overcome those issues, or if they'll abandon the work when it gets difficult.
I seem to recall that Google got the hang of the whole "pointing you at Wikipedia" bit quite a while back. Microsoft spending loads of money to duplicate something someone else already does quite well? Astonishing. Coming soon: Microsoft Wheel 1.0
bloody 51st staters! - last time i checked it was still spelt 'rumours' this side o' the pond
jeeves knows where to buy 'i can't think of a title'
i've had a quick dabble on powerset and - like ed - i'm pretty underwhelmed. it works great for the included example searches but, when i try 'rolling my own' the results seem little different from those returned by google.
oh well, at least it cannae be as bad as 'ask jeeves'; the original [supposedly] semantic search engine where any search "what is XXX", "who is XXX", "where is XXX"... etc. would invariably return the answer "jeeves knows where to buy XXX" - even if the XXX in question was something like "anal polyps" or "parliamentary democracy"
mind you, i'm sure once microsoft get their greasy paws on powerset they'll completely feck it over anyway, so all discussion of how good or bad it seems to be at present is pretty much moot.
Microsoft Wheel 1.0
I've seen the beta for this.
I don't get it. MS has their OS on 95%+ of PCs, each has MSN as the home page for the included browser, and the default search in the browser and on MSN is Windows Live Search -- why do they feel that Google has an unfair advantage in the search business? If MS has less than 10% of the search market now, how much would they have if Google was the default search in ie and on MSN?
Deep Pockets & Free Advertising
What better way to advertise a dieing product then to make legal claims against your competitor which is kick your A$$ in the search market. This will naturally cause the media to compare your two products. Free publicity...even if your product is rated sub-par.