One of the biggest weaknesses of Microsoft Outlook has been the
search feature. It takes so long for Outlook to search that the feature
is almost useless.
Searching is not a hard problem, and a lot of plug-ins sprang up to solve this problem. Lookout
was one of the best. It just works. Searching five years of accumulated
email takes less than a second. Indexing is done quietly in the
background and never slows down your system. Suddenly email is useful
So what happens? Microsoft buys Lookout. That's nice, good for them.
But look more closely at the Q&A:
Q: Why can't I download Lookout anymore?
We will be focusing our efforts on integrating our expertise and working on next-generation technologies.
Huh? What's going on?
Q: What is Microsoft going to do with Lookout? …
The existing Lookout product will no longer be available, but its
technology will be part of an exciting vision that MSN has for
delivering new and innovative search services.
MSN?! Lookout is going to be part of MSN? What about Outlook?
Our vision is to take search beyond today's basic
Internet search services to deliver direct answers to people's
questions, and help them find information from a broad range of sources.
What? What the hell does this have to do with searching
email? Could Microsoft have possibly bought Lookout just to shut them
down? Even at my most paranoid, I can't for the life of me figure out
why Microsoft wants searching in Outlook to be worthless. Maybe just Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Update: They figured it out on the discussion group.
Lookout is using an open-source component for searching, which
Microsoft can't redistribute. The only part of Lookout that Microsoft
allegedly cares about, the search engine, is released under the Apache
license. The only part of Lookout which Microsoft can use is
the Outlook integration, and they don't seem to care about that.
Methinks this is one of those “HR Acquisitions,” wherein Microsoft buys
a company for a few bucks because it's the only way to hire someone