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Last week, OStatic noted the rumor, first reported by VentureBeat, that Microsoft intended to buy Silicon Valley semantic search engine Powerset for $100 million. Lo and behold, Microsoft and Powerset are confirming today that an acquisition agreement has been signed. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the rumored $100 million figure was in line with valuations put on Powerset based on its early financing.
Powerset’s search technology uses the open-source, cluster-based technology Hadoop, which provides fast answers to queries by using the resources of many computers. Hadoop, a project from the Apache Software Foundation, is also behind Yahoo’s search.
Natural language search got a bad rap early on in the rise of the web as players such as AskJeeves stumbled, but clustered query technology like Hadoop’s may represent a game-changer. Microsoft, of course, has been desperately trying to catch up in search, where it is a distant third to Google and Yahoo. It won’t be surprising to see large portions of Microsoft’s LiveSearch start to depend on Powerset, and in so doing, depend on open-source upstart Hadoop.