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Live Search gets a Powerset boost

Microsoft, which closed its deal to buy Powerset a month ago, said the first fruits of collaboration are now finding their way into the company's main search results.

Microsoft's Live Search now uses technology from Powerset to help generate related search terms at the right of the search window. Microsoft

It will take some time for Microsoft to fully make use of the technology it got by acquiring natural-language search company Powerset. However, Microsoft said on Wednesday that the earliest fruits of the deal are now evident in its Live Search product.

Specifically, the company said in a blog posting that it has added three things from Powerset: a set of direct answers using Freebase, improved captions for Wikipedia results, and new related searches using the Factz engine. Microsoft closed its deal to buy Powerset last month.

"Since Wikipedia articles show up in a large percentage of Live Search queries, it's important that the captions are top notch," Powerset's Mark Johnson said in the blog posting. "These changes are transparent to the end user, but we'll be able to analyze the Powerset captions versus the Live Search captions to see which perform better."

In the other direction, Powerset is now using some Live Search technology on its site to display related topics, Johnson said.

Microsoft is counting on tailored search and other changes in the business to allow it to make inroads on market leader Google. While most of the attention has focused on Powerset's ability to help out on the algorithmic side of things, Microsoft also sees potential in using natural language search to generate more relevant paid search.

Powerset taps Freebase Answers to provide an informational link at the top of a list of search results for the Chrysler Building. Microsoft