Microsoft this week rolled out major upgrades to its Bing search engine, including enhanced video searching, direct integration with Facebook, and a connection to the Wolfram Alpha math engine.
"Being the true search geeks that we are, we knew we needed to keep our eye on the prize: we still need to help people make better decisions with more confidence," said Bing product manager Henry Hall, in a blog post about the changes.
"People expect more than just ten blue links," said Hall. Among the new features is a tool that allows Bing users to search for products, such as electronics gear, and then create a wish list they can publish directly on Facebook or other social networking sites. "Who would have though making a holiday wish list could be so easy," said Hall.
Bing's integration with Wolfram Alpha brings the latter's computational capabilities to the search engine. For instance, a query about the optimal body mass index for an adult male would automatically yield Wolfram Alpha's BMI calculator. Queries about the nutritional value of certain foods might yield Wolfram Alpha's calorie counter.
"We are also able to rely on Wolfram Alpha's ability to solve complex math functions (and some easy ones too)," wrote Microsoft's Tracey Yao and Pedro Silva, in a separate blog post about the updates.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has revamped Bing's video search areas to prominently display editors' picks, hot viral clips, snippets from top TV shows, and other popular categories. Microsoft hopes the changes will make it easier for users to wade through the thousands of new videos uploaded to the Web every day.
If it all works as planned, Microsoft believes it can close the gap with Google in search engine market share—but it's got a long way to go. The most recent numbers from market watcher comScore show Google with 64.6% of the sector, with Microsoft holding 9.4%.
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