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Stefanie Olsen

Staff Writer, CNET

Yahoo has quietly purchased e-mail software company Stata Labs, in what could be an investment in a coming PC search tool to rival Google and Microsoft.

Stata Labs, a privately held company based in San Mateo, Calif., sells an e-mail application called Bloomba that lets people search message text and attachments. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo apparently bought the underlying technology of Stata Labs and does not intend to continue sales of Bloomba.

“This acquisition will provide Yahoo with exceptional technological expertise and strategic assets,” according to a posting on Stata Lab’s Web site notifying users of the buyout.

Financial terms have not been disclosed. Yahoo and Stata Labs did not immediately return calls requesting comment.

The acquisition comes only a week after Yahoo rival Google unveiled new technology that allows people to search data in e-mail, Word documents and Web pages. Microsoft also has designs to integrate desktop, e-mail and Web search from the operating system, and toward that end it recently bought a small e-mail search company called Lookup.

Yahoo executives have said previously that the company plans to introduce a desktop search tool.

For now, Stata’s engineers will join Yahoo, and Bloomba and Stata’s professional e-mail software will no longer be sold, according to the notice. However, Yahoo will provide support for up to a year for current customers.