Microsoft Bing: the Quiet Contender

As Bing takes to making search more social, it might ring in trouble for master of the game Google. Will it or won’t it?

Even though Google has pretty much established monopoly over the internet search engine arena, Microsoft launched its answer to Google, the Bing, in 2009. With much fanfare, the Bing was touted to overthrow Google’s reign on internet searches, and while the Bing was off to a slow start, it did find quite a few takers initially. Bing fans stated that it delivered far more relevant search results on account of its more efficient search algorithms in comparison to Google. However, despite its small successes, it failed to break Google’s strong hold and Microsoft ended up losing over $5.5 billion since Bing’s inception.

But all that is probably set to change with Microsoft’s recent acceptance of failure in going up against Google at its own game. Instead, Microsoft Bing proposes to change the game by turning search more social than it ever was. This decision to redesign Bing came from the simple logic of how we internet users rely on our friends’ or experts’ advice when it comes to selecting reliable sources for information. Now Google has been toying around with this idea for a while, using +1’s to gauge the popularity and relevance of content displayed in its search results. But it hasn’t yet taken off formally, and is not yet being given as much importance in deciding the relevancy of the results returned.

Microsoft is jumping onto the social search bandwagon in a big way, with the rollout of the “New Bing”, featuring an upgraded user interface, probably designed keeping the upcoming Windows 8 in mind. The “New Bing” page will have 3 columns – search results, a “snapshot” view, and a social sidebar.

  • Search results: Microsoft assures us that the core search algorithm of the Bing, one of its key strengths, will not be modified. The search results column promises to provide core web search functionality, exclusively focusing on the relevance of the content in the links returned.
  • Snapshot view: This is where you will get additional information about services related to your search, for instance, maps and reviews, to assist you with your task at hand in a better manner.
  • Social sidebar: Here is where the most change is going to take place. The sidebar is expected to combine information off the internet with recommendations from experts and your friends to produce the most useful information for each of your searches. Taking information from Quora, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and similar sources, Bing will now let you see information that has been most talked about on social networking platforms, or has received expert reviews, and bring together their views in answering your queries.

The “New Bing” is expected to release to a select group of users in the US over the next couple of weeks, but for those of us who just can’t wait for our turn to try it out, sign up at this link to receive e-mail updates about its availability. For now, we just wait to see how much Bing’s social search experience will take people away from Google.

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