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Microsoft today debuted a new beta version of its maps software, driven by Silverlight for smoother graphics and richer related content.  (Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft also has released a new Bing mobile client, available on 25 different handsets, including the Apple iPhone.  (Source: Microsoft)
Bing just got a host of new features

Microsoft has already rolled out its new Bing search engine, the successor to Live Search/MSN Search.  The new search engine powers Microsoft search homepage (Bing.com) and partner Yahoo's search page.  Google, which enjoys a sizable lead over Microsoft and Yahoo, has a shiny new search engine of its own -- Caffeine.  However, some people still prefer Google's good old-fashioned standard interface.

While the search engine itself is obviously inseparable from the search business, another key to generating traffic is attached content, such as mapping web applications and more.  Google has long held a healthy lead in providing such rich information and free web apps.

Today Microsoft detailed and rolled out a major overhaul to its Bing engine packed with new features and refinements to help it close that gap.  In what some are dubbing as "Bing 2.0" Microsoft's new search results now include more structured information via a feature called "entity cards", which supplements traditional crawled results.  For example, searching for the band "Coldplay" will bring up photos of the band, a list of tour dates, and more.  These structured results come courtesy of Microsoft's partners such as Wolfram Alpha.

In addition to added basic info, Microsoft will be adding Twitter and Facebook results local to you.  It has also overhauled its mapping software, offering a new beta Silverlight-driven version of its mapping and street view software (Silverlight is a closed rich-media standard similar to Adobe's Flash).  Other mapping improvements include the addition of "what's nearby" -- information on bars, restaurants, and other attractions near your location -- and "Photosynths" -- virtual photographic tours of locations like museums.

Microsoft also has debuted a feature dubbed "task pages" that help people complete their search objectives.  Both the task pages and entity cards were available in cruder forms, but have been refined with "Bing 2.0".

Looking to get the jump on Google in the emerging smart phone internet market, Microsoft has launched a mobile Bing client available on 25 devices.  Many of the handsets are Verizon phones, with some powered by Windows Mobile, Microsoft's smart phone operating system.  There's also an app for AT&T's iPhone.  The mobile Bing implementations aims to rule the world of mobile maps and quick searches.  It also offers rich mobile information and support for voice driven searches, such as "football scores".

In all, Microsoft's new features, which should be mostly available at this time, demonstrate the company's ongoing commitment to the search business.  There's a vast amount of money at stake and Microsoft isn't taking the search game lightly -- it's increasingly appearing like Google may have a real competitor on its hands at last.



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I'd like to use Bing, really
By anotherdude on 12/3/2009 10:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
Really! Google needs a viable competitor and I have no problem with MS doing it, in fact I've started using Bing as my first option (when I'm not in a hurry, LOL) but it seems every time Bing fails to read my intentions Google does - Google seems to read my mind - don't know why this is but I see it too often. Is it better at knowing what I'm looking for or does it simply have a bigger index to search from?




RE: I'd like to use Bing, really
By MozeeToby on 12/3/2009 11:44:58 AM , Rating: 5
It's possible that it goes the other way a little bit; that is, that you're very used to structuring your queries in a way that Google likes and understands. I don't know how many times I've had people ask me for help looking something up that they can't find only to have it come up as the first or second result on my first Google search.

Parsing what you want into a form that a search engine can understand is a skill just like any other, I can't imagine that all search engines speak the exact same language.


By InternetGeek on 12/3/2009 1:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
My experience is exactly the opposite. Google is no longer my primary search engine because with Bing searching for stuff is now faster. In fact, it's a strange case when I have to click more than 4 times to find what i need.


Bing Maps Beta has.... Street View!?!?!
By mikefarinha on 12/3/2009 11:28:27 AM , Rating: 2
I just went to maps.bing.com and clicked on their maps beta link... to my surprise they now have street view! All rolled up into silverlight goodness!




RE: Bing Maps Beta has.... Street View!?!?!
By mikefarinha on 12/3/2009 11:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently their repository of street view images is very limited. I was checking out Sacramento, CA for anyone that wants to explore it.

And it isn't called Street View... it's called Streetside.


RE: Bing Maps Beta has.... Street View!?!?!
By Omega215D on 12/3/2009 12:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
It's not consistent when you view it 360ยบ. some angles of my area are of old photos (empty lot) and another angle shows a more updated map (new building and my motorcycle in driveway).

In order for these maps to be useful in finding landmarks and such I would suggest they update them to reflect the current surroundings in the area (some streets in my neighborhood got cemented over to become walkways).


By mikefarinha on 12/3/2009 12:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. As far as features I think Bing Maps is far better than Google Maps but content is king and Google Maps is far more current than Bing Maps.

I'm sure Microsoft will catch up but in the mean time Google Maps will be my primary with Bing as my secondary.


BCB
By MrAlexander006 on 12/3/2009 12:18:56 PM , Rating: 4
I like Bing Cashback, thumbs up to MS for that.




RE: BCB
By MScrip on 12/3/2009 5:34:43 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, that's good... for us.

But Microsoft is PAYING large corporations to force them to use Bing as their default search engine.

Microsoft makes money from ads on Bing, right? But then they spend money getting people to use it. Will that ever even out?

Maybe someday when millions of corparate Fortune 500 companies are using Bing, and Bing's market share grows... then what?

Microsoft spent a buttload of money to achieve that! Is that the way to beat Google?


RE: BCB
By lotharamious on 12/4/2009 1:25:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Will that ever even out?

Nope.

But that's not MS' plan either.

A computer science professor I had once told me, "A rich man can always buy more bandwidth." Since bandwidth is a function of data size, you can always just increase data capacity of a pipe to increase bandwidth. The more money you have to throw at the problem, the better you can make it.

MS is doing the same thing here; throwing it's money at Bing until people start to use it. My guess is that they're looking at a 3-5 year investment. Since it's clear search engines aren't going anywhere soon, MS believes that by forcing people to use it enough (or at least think about it), people will start to use it.


Eh?
By Spivonious on 12/3/2009 9:44:40 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of the features listed were already there at launch, like the "entity cards" feature, and the "what's nearby" mapping feature. The only thing different with the maps that I can tell is that it's Silverlight-based and has a more useable interface.

Personally, I've switched to Bing as my primary search engine. It's very rare that I don't find what I'm looking for.




What's a <b><i>"Bing"</i></b>?
By Redwin on 12/3/2009 10:14:13 AM , Rating: 1
Nevermind, I'll just go Google it.




Bing 1.0 was underwhelming at best
By Bateluer on 12/3/09, Rating: -1
RE: Bing 1.0 was underwhelming at best
By Cront on 12/3/2009 8:34:56 AM , Rating: 2
much like wolfram alpha...


By piroroadkill on 12/4/2009 4:04:13 AM , Rating: 2
Nah, Wolfram|Alpha is actually pretty good, was even from day one, as long as you don't expect to do everything. It's a brilliant tool for math and comparing certain queries


Oh Oh Bing it to me baby
By Belard on 12/3/09, Rating: -1
RE: Oh Oh Bing it to me baby
By The Imir of Groofunkistan on 12/3/2009 9:31:33 AM , Rating: 5
right, so you'll use tiny google?


RE: Oh Oh Bing it to me baby
By Ratinator on 12/3/2009 10:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
That would be my guess though he will never admit it. If he does admit to some other search engine....well then it is his own loss.


RE: Oh Oh Bing it to me baby
By Belard on 12/3/09, Rating: 0
"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins














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