Microsoft has hired Paul Ryan, a former CTO of pay-per-click search firm Overture Services, to lead its push into search technology.

The move comes several days after the software giant announced plans to divide its MSN division into two units: one to focus on information products, including its portal and forthcoming search tools; and the other to focus on communication, including its Hotmail and Messenger services.

Microsoft has made it clear that it aims to become a major player in the search sector, and has been investing heavily in developing its own search technology over the past year.

Recent reports suggested that Microsoft had approached Google with a takeover offer, but was rebuffed by the number one search engine, which is understood to be planning its long-awaited IPO. Microsoft had also been linked with buys of any of the remaining search players, including Ask Jeeves and Looksmart, though the company has recently dumped Looksmart after deciding its results did not match up to those of its other search partners, notably Overture.

Overture and its new parent Yahoo will be concerned that the former head of its technology has now joined its future rival. The PPC company was the first to develop pay-for-performance sponsored search listings.

source: netimperative

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