Microsoft announced its biggest-ever revamp of its Bing search engine on Thursday, saying it would use information from users’ Facebook accounts to mimic how questions are answered in the real world: by asking friends who might know.
The extensive redesign is aimed at helping bridge the stubborn gap with Google, which still serves some two thirds of all U.S. web searches compared to 15 per cent for Microsoft’s Bing. Bing also powers Yahoo’s search technology, which accounts for a further 14 per cent of searches.
Microsoft launched Bing three years ago, investing more than 6 billion dollars on the project so far, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The new Bing platform will roll out in the U.S. in the coming days, said Microsoft executive Qi Lu, and will feature three different columns on the page. The first column features traditional web links, while the middle column, called Snapshot, is reserved for actions related to those searches, such as viewing movie trailers or booking tickets. The third panel, called “Sidebar,” will feature answers from relevant people on Facebook and Twitter and will soon be expanded to include other social networks such as LinkedIn.
“People are using the Web to do things in the real world, and that’s a big change from where things were a decade ago,” Bing senior director Stefan Weitz said. “And so the 10 blue links that search has been predicated on for the last decade no longer makes sense. Simply put, that’s not how you get things done.”