Microsoft buys linguistic Web search firm Powerset

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday it had agreed to buy Powerset, a start-up that is working on a new class of Web search that relies on insights from linguistics rather than simple keyword strings.

Satya Nadella, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Search, Portal, and Advertising business, confirmed the purchase in a statement, following months of rumors that they were in merger talks. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Powerset’s technology breaks down the meaning of words into related concepts, freeing users from having to type the exact words they want to find. This emerging approach to Web search, known as semantic search, has fascinated researchers for decades but proved frustratingly difficult to commercialize.

New iPhone to sell for $599-$699 without contract

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

U.S. consumers who want the new iPhone but cannot or do not want to sign up for a two-year contract with AT&T Inc will eventually be able to buy it for an extra $400.

Apple Inc has said the new iPhone will go on sale July 11 at $199 for the model with 8 gigabytes of storage and $299 for the 16-gigabyte version. These prices apply to customers signing up for a two-year AT&T contract.

Those who don’t want to be locked into such a contract, or do not have adequate credit, can buy the iPhone for $599 or $699 as long as they sign up for some kind of AT&T wireless subscription, AT&T said on Tuesday.

Orbitz travel sites replace Expedia at MSN

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Orbitz Worldwide Inc said on Tuesday its Orbitz.com and ebookers.com websites have replaced Expedia Inc as the travel agencies for Microsoft Corp’s Internet arm MSN.com in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The change, which Orbitz said could bring about 3.5 million visitors per month to Orbitz via MSN Travel, represents a blow to Expedia, which began life in 1995 as a Microsoft company.

A Microsoft spokesman said the company decided to switch to Orbitz because it preferred the travel site’s features and customer service.

“Our customers are looking for innovative and differentiating experiences in travel,” the spokesman said.

Orbitz did not provide data on how many visitors could be drawn to its ebookers European affiliate through the deal, which took effect Tuesday

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