December 16, 2010

Bing Upgrades Include Enhanced Facebook Integration

Microsoft unveiled a series of cosmetic and functional changes to their Bing search engine on Wednesday, giving it a visual overhaul and expanding its partnership with popular social networking service Facebook, various media outlets are reporting.

Now, Bing users can see which results have been "liked" by their Facebook friends, and Microsoft also upgraded its mobile applications to allow people to make restaurant reservations and/or order take-out food, according to French news agency AFP. Microsoft also said that they were going to make online picture searches easier to use and review, and would soon roll out a new feature that would allow people to take a virtual peek inside specific venues.

"The core of our work addresses the fact that the Web is getting more complex and faceted--not less," Microsoft online services division senior vice president Satya Nadella said in a blog post, according to AFP reports. "We are building new technologies that help Bing figure out what people like you are trying to do, and match that with the right experiences to help get things done."

"We are neck-to-neck in terms of search quality," Nadella added in an interview with Ryan Singel of Wired, which was printed by CNN.com Thursday. "Why would an end user, if you are neck to neck on search quality, use Bing? That's the question we ask ourselves every day."

In addition to the new functionality, the website also rolled out what Singel called "a prettier interface" intended to make Bing easier on the eyes than competing search engines.

However, it is the Facebook integration that is garnering the lion's share of the attention. According to the Associated Press (AP), "Microsoft believes its Facebook relationship will become an increasingly important factor in the search market as people realize how helpful it is to see the recommendations of their friends when they're looking for information on the Web."

"Microsoft also is betting it can lure Web surfers away from Google by making Bing a one-stop shop for a range of common online activities," the news agency added, noting that they had formed a partnership with ticket-related search engine FanSnap and restaurant reservation provider OpenTable Inc. in order to accomplish that goal.


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