Bing the changes
Reports are emerging of big changes to Microsoft's Bing search engine.
Currently in the testing phases, these changes are only visible to a small number of users. However, Search Engine Land reports that this includes paid ads appearing within organic search results. The subtle 'Ad' sign to the far right makes them almost indistinguishable from natural results, effectively diminishing the impact of SEO by artificially boosting the rankings of paying sites. PPC ads already appear above, below and to the right of search results.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the test, telling Search Engine Land: "We're constantly testing and experimenting on Bing, and with that, we carefully measure user engagement and reaction to these changes."
The future for Microsoft
Another confirmed ongoing test is a redesign of the user interface including Live Tiles at the bottom of the screen. This layout, known as Metro, is already in use on the Bing app for iPad and the Windows Phone 7 interface, as well as the Windows 8 OS due for release in 2012. The Live Tiles will provide real-time snapshots of news, weather and trends as well as targeted ads. A HTML5 version of the search engine with instant search functionality is also rumoured to be in the development stages.
Last week, Microsoft revealed record annual profits of $69.9 billion (£43.4 billion), largely due to sales of the Xbox 360 games console and Office software. Meanwhile, the online services division, responsible for Bing and MSN, suffered increased losses of $728 million (£447.6 million). Sales of Windows PCs have also declined.