Microsoft has sold off Ciao, its product search and customer reviews engine, to LeGuide.com, a European publisher that owns several similar online properties.
The software giant purchased Ciao back in 2008 for $486 million, though since financial details of this latest transaction haven't been released, it's not clear whether Microsoft made its money back or not. TechCrunch points out LeGuide.com paid for the deal in cash and didn't have to take out any loans to help finance it.
The purchase of Ciao should help expand LeGuide's current business platform. The French company operates product search and price comparison sites in 9 different languages across 14 different European countries, giving it a strong customer base to introduce Ciao too and no doubt expanding with the introduction of the new property - since it brings with it some 20 million users.
Ciao has been in operation since 1998, offering customer reviews and product ratings for millions of items across major parts of Europe and the USA. Since its inception the site has changed hands a few times, being bought from the original creators by Greenfield Online in 2005, only to be sold on to Microsoft in 2008 - now owned by LeGuide at the close of 2011.