Microsoft announced that it has purchased Onfolio, a maker of online information and content sharing tools, whose technology the software giant has already integrated into the latest version of its browser-based tool bar application.
Based on the acquisition, terms of which were not immediately released, Microsoft said that it is permanently adding Onfolios tools into its Windows Live Toolbar, a beta version of which was released earlier in the week of March 5.
Microsoft also released a beta version of its next generation search engine, Windows Live Search, in a bid to improve its position against segment leaders Google and Yahoo.
Tool bar applications have become a hotly contended sector among all the major search engine providers as the applications which are downloaded and sit in an end users Web browser have replaced the practice of visiting traditional search engine Web sites for many people.
By adding Onfolio to Windows Live Toolbar, Microsoft is hoping that customers begin to use the applications to organize information they encounter online for future reference, and as a starting point for launching subsequent Web queries.
Onfolios software promises the ability to help end users better save and track their online research activities by offering an extended browser interface for viewing and searching any Web sites and information they save into the system.
The software also allows users to save their Web usage information directly onto their computers and into documents, or to share the data with others via e-mail.
The online information management software has also been armed with RSS-oriented features that promise the ability to notify users when content has changed on Web sites saved in its system that someone has chosen to receive updates on.
"The Windows Live mission is to harness the power of the Web in a way that lets people easily find the information and pursue the interests that deepen their relationships and enrich their lives," Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of Windows Live Search at Microsoft said in a statement.
"It does this by furthering our investments in Web and desktop search and by giving users an easy way to retain, organize and consume information as theyre browsing across the Internet."
Content saved into Onfolios application can also be annotated with research notes, flags, keywords and highlighting to help users find specific data or share their perspective on particular information they may be sharing with other people.
Last year the company released the 2.0 version of its applications, adding an RSS news feed reader, workgroup collaboration tools, blog publishing capabilities and the ability to save the complete content of individual Web sites, among other things.
There has been no word yet from Microsoft whether or not Onfolio will continue to offer support for browsers other than Internet Explorer.
Added compatibility for Mozilla Foundations Firefox browser was another addition with the Onfolio 2.0 release.
Onfolio had also promised tighter integration with Microsofts Outlook e-mail software as part of the update.
Onfolio has been available for purchase in two editions Onfolio Professional Edition and Onfolio Personal Edition, which sold for $99.95 and $29.99, respectively.
Microsoft has not yet indicated what plans it has for the companys technology outside of the new tool bar integration.
"Onfolios core competency is providing users with the tools to enable them to save, collect and share that information as they conduct research on the Internet," said J.J. Allaire, founder of Onfolio.
"We are thrilled to be integrated into Microsofts Windows Live products and to continue to help people efficiently capture and organize information on the Web."