Microsoft to acquire search start-up Medstory

Acquisition of company specializing in health-related searches will become part of Microsoft's nascent Health Solutions Group.

Microsoft announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Medstory, a search technology company that focuses on health-related information.

Medstory, which is based in Foster City, Calif., operates a search engine--currently in beta--that is geared toward the needs of consumers and health professionals who are looking for information on medical topics. Search results are divided into categories of information relevant to the query: for example, results can be narrowed into clinical studies, procedures, personal health information, conditions and substances.

Financial terms of the Medstory acquisition were not disclosed, but the start-up and its employees will become part of Microsoft's Health Solutions Group. Microsoft has touted health care as one field that has strong potential for high-tech enhancement.

Indeed, Medstory is not the only acquisition that Microsoft has made in the health care sector over the past year: in July, it purchased patient database service Azyxxi and formed an alliance with hospital group MedStar Health to bring new technology into MedStar's hospitals.

But there may be more to Microsoft's acquisition of Medstory than an interest in bolstering its health care offerings. Medstory's Web site hints that health is only the first topic for which it plans to implement its "intelligent search" technology and that other "complex fields" of inquiry may be on the way.

Search is one of a number of areas where Microsoft is going head-to-head with Google, which has dominated the field both in terms of Internet search itself and of .

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