Microsoft's Bing search engine is getting a little help from a very smart friend. Microsoft has reached a licensing deal with Wolfram Alpha that allows Bing to present some of the specialised scientific and computational content that Wolfram Alpha generates, according to a source familiar with the deal. The deal was reported earlier by TechCrunch.
Representatives from Microsoft and Wolfram Research declined to comment on the deal.
Wolfram Alpha's unique blend of computational input and curated output hasn't taken the world by storm, but it is considered an interesting enough take on the business of Internet search to attract high-profile attention within the industry. Wolfram Alpha doesn't return the usual list of links to pages with search keywords, instead providing answers to questions such as stock prices and complex mathematical formulae -- with mixed results.
Bing, on the other hand, is enjoying a solid start in the three months since it made its debut as it gains users and will at some point be the default search experience on Yahoo's highly trafficked pages following a long-awaited deal. It's not clear whether Bing results will carry Wolfram's branding (ie, results 'Powered by Wolfram Alpha'), but there will be some sort of presence.
It's unlikely that Bing is going to turn over the bulk of its results to Alpha, however. In a blog post on Friday, Wolfram's founder, the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, admitted that linguistic problems are to blame for half of the occasions when Wolfram Alpha doesn't return a result. That percentage is changing as Wolfram refines the science behind Wolfram Alpha, but it will take some time.