Microsoft acquisition targets Outlook hole

The stated purpose of Redmond's recent deal for Lookout Software was to bolster MSN's search capabilities, but some analysts say it also plugs a gap in Microsoft's e-mail client.

Microsoft's recent acquisition of Lookout Software LLC was aimed at helping the company head off possible future competition from the likes of Google and other companies specializing in search technologies, analysts said.

Michael D. Osterman, principal

The search tools in Outlook are really not very good.


Michael D. Osterman, analyst,

Osterman Research

,
analyst of Black Diamond, Wash.-based Osterman Research Inc., a company specializing in messaging technologies, said he expects Mountain View, Calif.-based Google to get into the business of allowing users to search their desktops for e-mails, files, folders and answers to questions.

"I foresee Google getting into the search business for application software," Osterman said. "And I think Microsoft has acquired Lookout in response to that."

Lookout, a Palo Alto, Calif. -based startup, makes software that allows users to search Outlook for e-mail messages, contact lists, calendar appointments, Microsoft Exchange data and public folders.

Microsoft's MSN division announced that it had acquired Lookout in mid-July. Redmond said the purchase was part of its ongoing plan to revamp MSN's search capabilities.

"Lookout has developed an innovative technology for searching e-mail that is aligned with Microsoft's efforts," said Justin Osmer, a product manager with MSN.

For more information

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Google, the provider of a popular Internet search engine, held a successful initial public offering last week. At the time, industry analysts said Google would eventually have to expand its business beyond Internet advertising to remain a viable commodity on Wall Street.

Osterman said that currently, there is a good opportunity for third-party companies to step up and offer advanced search tools for Outlook. Microsoft's purchase of Lookout is an attempt to preempt those efforts, he said

"The search tools in Outlook are really not very good," Osterman said. "It takes a long time to search through a big mailbox."

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