November 12, 2009

Bing Gets Some New “˜Bling’

In an effort to dethrone Google from its long-held position of hegemony in the Internet search engine market, Microsoft is looking to "Ëœtrick out' its own search service Bing by linking up with other Web sites to bring customers a variety of new tools and informational forums.

While the two leading Internet search engines, Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., provide users with information by pointing them to third party websites, Microsoft Corp. has opted to try out a different approach.

A number of changes introduced on Wednesday to Bing are intended to provide information to inquiring minds without redirecting them to outside Web pages.

When web surfers initiate a search for any given topic, Bing will automatically harvest and incorporate related information from partner websites onto their own page, displaying results for sports, weather, products, hotels, restaurants and more.

Microsoft engineers have also made improvements to the pop up preview window that appears when the mouse arrow hovers over a link.  Now, instead of just a text description of the website, users will get a tiny thumbnail image as well.

Another much-hyped enhancement is Microsoft's partnership with the "computational knowledge engine" Wolfram Alpha.  Microsoft says the Bing-Wolfram union will let users not only search for websites but also ask difficult questions"”such as complex math problems or personal nutritional information"”and get specific, accurate answers.

In a video interview, Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram, offered his thoughts on the partnership.

"What we're seeing with Microsoft and Bing now is a first step toward taking computational knowledge and deploying it in an application, in this case a search engine," he said.

Microsoft says that Wolfram Alpha's answers will be displayed at the top of the page, while traditional search results and website links will be listed below.

Microsoft says that the new Bing enhancements will be rolled out in the coming days.

According to comScore Inc., September figures showed that Bing's total share of the U.S. search engine market was hovering at just under 10 percent,  while Yahoo had 19 percent and Google a whopping 65 percent.

Though trailing in a distant third, Stephan Weitz of Microsoft's search division points out that Bing has been making slow but steady increases over the last several months, adding that the search engine was "on the right trajectory."

Weitz conceded, however, that the competition is fierce and progress often slow and grinding.

"We really know we have to go win one query at a time."


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