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.
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
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.
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.