Watson search tool adds to MSN Search

Intellext's Watson 2.0 contextual search application is included as an MSN Search Toolbar add-in.

The Watson 2.0 contextual search software released by Intellext earlier this month is now available as an add-in package for Microsoft's MSN Search Toolbar application, Intellext announced Friday.

Watson 2.0, which Intellext calls a " personal research assistant," provides computer users with Web links related to text displayed on Microsoft's Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and Internet Explorer applications, as well as the Firefox browser for the stand-alone Watson 2.0 package. For example, if a computer user surfed to the CNN.com Friday story, "Evacuee bus explodes as Rita closes in," Watson would point the user to 36 related general Web links, one news link, two Web log links, and three research links.

With Watson incorporated into the Windows Desktop Search functionality of the MSN Search Toolbar, computer users get a "non-intrusive sidebar" that automatically returns related Web data, Intellext said. The MSN Search Toolbar Watson download, available at http://addins.msn.com/addins_category_app.aspx, is available for a free 30-day trial; after that, it costs US$10 (AU$13.20) a month or $99 a year.

In addition to marketing Watson to individual computer users, Intellext is aiming at corporate users. Because Watson can provide contextual links for Word, PowerPoint or Outlook documents, it can help corporate users with needed research, said Mark Tack, director of marketing for the 2-year-old company.

Tack and Jay Budzik, chief technologist at Intellext, said they don't see search engine giant Google as competition, even though Google provides its own desktop search functionality. Watson can search Google results, but Watson's search results scan a number of search engines, not just Google's Budzik said. Watson goes beyond the functionality of some toolbars that provide weather information or URL histories, he said.

"Watson offers an interesting alternative -- information that is relevant to what you're doing right now as you're working," he added.

The Intellext partnership with Microsoft benefits both companies, Budzik added. Watson can provide benefits to MSN Search Toolbar users, and Microsoft gives the new Watson application exposure. Intellext released the first version of Watson in February, and the 2.0 version earlier this month.

"For us, it's a boon," Budzik said of the MSN download. "There are millions of users of MSN Search Toolbar ... who now will be offered a 30-day trial of the Watson tool."

Before Watson appeared on the MSN add-ins download page Thursday, it had about 2,000 users. "Since then, we've had a huge spike in downloads," Tack said.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service

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