Microsoft buys Lookout to boost search

The acquisition comes two weeks after the launch of a revamped MSN search.

Microsoft's MSN division announced Thursday that it has acquired Lookout Software, a firm whose technology searches messages in the software giant's Outlook e-mail client.

Details of the acquisition remain murky, as Microsoft did not disclose financial terms and did not describe how Lookout will be integrated. What the company did say was the acquisition builds on MSN Search's ongoing efforts to refurbish itself through a series of changes.

"Our vision is to take search beyond today's basic Internet search services to deliver direct answers to people's questions, and help them find information from a broad range of sources," Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of MSN, said in a statement.

The acquisition comes two weeks after Microsoft unveiled a revamped version of MSN Search. The new design included a more streamlined interface that resembles Google's minimalist style. MSN also took out some advertiser links that were served by Yahoo, although it kept its paid-search relationship with the Web portal's Overture Services subsidiary.

Down the road, Microsoft plans to launch its own algorithmic search engine in hopes of competing more closely with Google. In the past year, the software giant has focused its attention on Google's dominance in Web searches. Part of Microsoft's development efforts involve bridging the power of Web search into the Windows operating system to search for files and documents.

In the meantime, Microsoft will incorporate Lookout's technology and developers into its family. One of its founders, Mike Belshe, will join the MSN Search team, while the other founder, Eric Hahn, will help with the transition.

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