July 19, 2004
...and MS buys search chops
Google/MS battle round X: Microsoft buys Lookout a "search your desktop" application that integrates with Outlook and - to emphasize the Google fight - quirky, bouncing, colored double O's in the company logo.
This seems to try to be (half of) the required personal search space - searching files and email fast. I wonder what ranking system they have in place though. As mentioned, search is not enough.
[UPDATE: MS decided to keep making Lookout available: Here it is. That makes Microsoft an open source distributor - well sort of. Lucene.Net is (as mentioned in comments) on an apache style license so you can legally embed it in other apps)]
Posted by Claus at July 19, 2004 12:14 PM
It's Lucene.Net - a .Net port of the Apache Lucene project. Obvously it will be a political problem for MS to use it, but I actually think the Apache license that it's under allows for Microsoft to use it. On the other hand I see no reason at all why they should. The indexing service in recent versions of Windows is as powerful as Lucene, MS just isn't using it very well.
As the Lucene project demonstrates the actual indexing is becoming a commodity, it's the interface and the ranking algorithm (a completely different problem from indexing) that's difficult now.
Incidentally II, having used the plugin, I think someone on the Joel thread was right in calling this an HR acquisition, i.e. an interesting way of hiring someone.
There's nothing in the feature set that you couldn't see someone at MS build quite easily - which of course makes it even stranger that they didn't do this yet to leverage the indexing service built into 2000 and XP.