Powerset’s Approach to Search

October 6, 2008

Powerset was acquired by Microsoft for about $100 million in June 2008. I haven’t paid too much attention to what Microsoft has done or is doing with the Powerset semantic, natural language, latent semantic indexing, et al system it acquired. A reader sent me a link to Jon Udell’s well Web log interview that focuses on Powerset. If you want to know more about how Microsoft will leverage the aging Xerox Parc technology, you will want to click here to get an introduction to the Perspectives interview conducted on September 30, 2008, with Scott Prevost. You will need to install Silverlight, or you can read the interview transcript here.

I can’t summarize the lengthy interview. For several three points were of particular interest:

  1. The $100 million bought Powerset, but Microsoft had to then license the Xerox Parc technology. You can get some “inxight” into the functions of the technology by exploring the SAP/ Business Objects’ information here.
  2. The Powerset technology can be used with both structured and unstructured information.
  3. Microsoft will be doing more work to deliver “instant answers”.

A happy quack to the reader who sent me this link, and two quacks for Mr. Udell for getting some useful information from Scott Prevost. I am curious about the roles of Barney Pell (Powerset founder) and Ron Kaplan (Powerset CTO and former Xerox Parc wizard) in the new organization. If anyone can shed light on this, you too will warrant a happy quack.

Stephen Arnold, October


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