MSN Buys E-Mail Search Firm

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Microsoft's MSN unit said Friday that it bought startup search firm Lookout, which makes a tool for searching e-mail and desktop data through Microsoft's e-mail client, Outlook.


Lookout's software lets users easily search through e-mail in Microsoft Outlook, which has a notoriously slow and cumbersome search feature. It also searches users' contacts, calendar and desktop files.


Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.


MSN's acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Lookout adds to its search technology as it tries to catch search leaders Google and Yahoo. One of Lookout's founders, Mike Belshe, will join MSN. Its other founder, Eric Hahn, will help in the transition.


MSN plans to unveil its own Web search capability in the next year to replace Yahoo's technology, which currently powers MSN Search.


MSN has pledged to spend $100 million to improve its search service. On July 1, in the first fruits of its labors, MSN revamped its search page and began testing its new algorithmic search technology. Microsoft plans to integrate search technology into its new version of Windows, due out in 2006, letting users search the Internet, local files and e-mail. Similarly, Google is reportedly working on its own desktop search capability.


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