Microsoft Outlines Bing Spring Update

By Stuart J. Johnston | Posted March 26, 2010

Microsoft Bing search engine
Source: Microsoft
(Click for larger image)
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It's spring and Bing is busting out all over, to paraphrase the hit song from Carousel.

To show it's serious, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Thursday previewed several new features and updates coming to its Bing search engine this spring and summer at the Search Engine Strategies 2010 Conference in New York.

"When we launched last June, one of the ways we helped customers get to better decisions was by providing a more visual, more intuitive, and more organized experience. This spring we will continue this evolution by making some changes to our user experience and providing new experiences throughout search," Microsoft spokesperson Todd Schwartz said in a post to the Bing Community blog on Thursday.


High on the list of the most visible changes coming is the relocation of Quick Tabs from the left side of the screen to the top of the page.

"Over the next few months, we are going to test some new design concepts moving Quick Tabs functionality to the top of the page for one-click access to our most robust, visual and organized pages," Schwartz's post added.

Quick Tabs are designed to adapt in order to help people accomplish tasks related to their overall goal. For instance, if you're planning a trip, the tabs may adapt to provide useful information – such as weather at the destination, events going on while there, and maps of the area -- with a single click.

Another change in Bing's new spring look is the addition of foursquare location-based social networking information to the recently added Map Apps feature in Bing maps.

As an example, Schwartz described a hypothetical planned trip to New York. Characterizing it as being "like an interactive day planner," the foursquare addition would let a person zoom in on, say, Greenwich Village and check out tips from locals on the best hot spots or restaurants.

"The foursquare map app is a powerful combination of the spatial canvas that Bing Maps provides, combined with foursquare’s user reputation service ... making it easier to explore any city in the world as if you were a local," Schwartz said.

Additionally, Microsoft is in the process of delivering more functionality such as real-time data available via its partnership with Twitter, first announced last fall.

For example, beginning this week, Bing will start testing the use of real-time data to provide up-to-date news and information related to searches. "When you search for a publication such as The New York Times, Bing not only gives you quick access to specific sections of the destination Web site, but also provides the most popular shared links from that publication," the post added.

Microsoft plans more updates as spring goes forward, though the company did not disclose what they might be.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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