Bing the changes
Microsoft has unveiled a range of significant changes to its Bing search engine including new features and a redesign.
Announced in a Bing blog, the changes are the "next phase" for the search engine, and promise to make the product "more helpful, more human, more beautiful".
The search engine has been rebranded to fit in with the rest of the Microsoft product family, with a new abstract yellow 'b' logo, a new colour palette, and the switch to Segoe Pro font. Meanwhile the user interface has been optimised for touch devices, and has been made "faster, cleaner and more visually appealing".
Bing's new search features
New functions have also been added to the search engine, which Microsoft believes offer "a unique and human perspective" and herald "the next generation of search". The new features include:
- Snapshot - Last year's addition of Snapshot (think Google Knowledge Graph) has been combined with the Sidebar which included Facebook and Twitter comments on the subject from friends. The new design gives users the factual and the 'human' information at a glance.
- Pole Position - Microsoft has been working to develop Bing's understanding of search intent, and now search queries where Bing has 'high confidence' in the user's intention - [weather+location] being the example given - will see an answer displayed in a new large shaded area above the other search results.
- Page Zero - Users will now see popular results and secondary actions before they see the search results - for example, a short profile and news/images/videos options will appear when searching for a celebrity, deep site links will show for brand name searches, and disambiguation options will appear for similarly names people or things.
Can Bing be king?
Bing's search engine market share has been steadily climbing since it launched in 2009 on both sides of the Atlantic, but it remains a long way behind market leader and rival Google. Campaigns including the Bing It On challenge have previously urged users to make the switch.
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, commented: "Search engines need to constantly adapt and deliver increasingly better results if they want to retain users. It looks as though Bing has made great strides in this latest update but it remains to be seen whether it will actually attract users from Google."