Microsoft jumps into medical search via acquisition

Microsoft announced plans to acquire health care search engine Medstory on Feb. 26, positioning the deal as a strategic move into the consumer health market.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker, best known for its Windows operating system and Office productivity tools, said that the deal not only immediately widens its footprint in the health care segment, but also reflects a long-term commitment to development of a "broader consumer health strategy."

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed by either company.

Medstory, based in Foster City, Calif., has posted a beta version of its health care search engine online, which promises to return more intelligent results than traditional Web scanning tools. By synthesizing user search requests within the context of health care, Medstory claims it can provide people with far more relevant information than they might uncover using generalized tools, such as Microsoft's own MSN engine.

While the company has focused its efforts on health care thus far and claims to have loaded its engine with related information via close work with a number of medical organizations, the firm indicates on its Web site that it may eventually branch into other search arenas.

Microsoft officials offered few details about its plans for Medstory but reported that the company's employees will join its Health Solutions Group, a recently launched division that oversees its product development efforts in the health care sector.