Microsoft gives Bing a tuneup

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17 September 2013 | 0

Microsoft has detailed a set of new and reworked features for its Bing search engine that the company hopes will position it as a "next generation" option for users.

Google remains the most popular search engine but Redmond is hoping new logo, a remade interface and improved search features could signal "the beginning of a new, more modern era for Bing," wrote Lawrence Ripsher, Bing’s user experiences general manager, in a blog post.

One of the main changes is the merging of two features – Snapshot and Sidebar – which were introduced last year. Snapshot provides factual, structured information about people, places and things, while Sidebar mines users’ social media accounts to deliver relevant information posted by their contacts on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

"In our new design, we’ve combined these two sources of knowledge to provide people with all the supporting context they’ll need for any given query," Ripsher wrote.

 

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An entirely new feature is Page Zero, which attempts to resolve a query while the user is still typing it, by displaying links, information and actions on the fly before the first page of results appears.

"We think the time people will save using Page Zero instead of navigating a search results page will be significant," he wrote.

Also new is Pole Position, a set of links and answers displayed prominently and in a larger format at the top of the results page that appear when Bing is highly confident it understands a query’s intent.

Examples of this scenario are when the search engine knows "someone wants images of a celebrity, is looking for a specific fact or needs a detailed view of the weather in a particular city," according to Ripsher.

Microsoft also enhanced the way Bing is rendered in a wide variety of devices and screen sizes. "Results should look as beautiful on a Surface or iPad as they do on a PC or phone," he wrote. This also includes incorporating touch-friendly interface controls and designs.

Overall, at the interface level, Microsoft also revised a variety of elements, including fonts, spacing, color, visual patterns, the search box’s design and the Bing logo. These changes attempt to convey the idea that Bing’s scope now extends beyond the web, since its technology is now included in products as diverse as Xbox, Office and Windows Phone, according to Scott Erickson, a Microsoft senior director of brand and creative.

The goal was "to create a new visual identity that best reflected Bing as part of the Microsoft family," Erickson wrote in another blog post.

IDG News Service

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