ZDNet Says, Powerset Won’t Change the Search Equation

July 2, 2008

Larry Dignan has another good essay, “Microsoft’s Search Plan: It’s about Semantics and Possibly for Naught”. You can read the full essay here. Mr. Dignan believes that Microsoft gets some smart people and maybe a boost. He concludes:

However, Microsoft can reinvent search, but it’s still running up a natural Google monopoly. The analogy here is Windows: Microsoft didn’t have the best operating system on the planet. It just had the best positioned one. In search, the tables are turned in Google’s favor. I don’t see how Powerset will change that equation.

He is correct and diplomatic. My view is that semantic technology may help Microsoft with certain narrow functions. But applying the Powerset technology across the 12 billion Web pages that Microsoft says it has indexed will take some clever engineering. Semantic technology has to operate on the source content and figure out what the heck the user means. Google uses short cuts even though it has some serious semantic brainpower at the Googleplex. It is not just technology; it is plumbing that can be scaled economically and operated with tight cost controls.

Microsoft has money, but I am not sure it has enough time. The Google keeps lumbering forward. Microsoft has to find a way to jump over Google and take the high ground. Catching up won’t work. This is the calculus of Microsoft’s search challenge.

Stephen Arnold, July 2, 2008


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