"$100M is probably the amount of interest Microsoft's warchest earns in a day, so it's not a big acquisition for the company," Beal says. He argues that the mini price tag is indicative of Microsoft's realistic view of the challenges that any semantic search engine (let alone core search engine) will encounter in an attempt to gain ground in the search race. "Didn't Ask.com try natural language search?" he says. "Didn't it fail? Didn't Google spend the last 10 years conditioning search engine users to use a handful of keywords--not natural language?"