Monday, June 1, 2009

Microsoft unveils new web search engine called “Bing”

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a new Web search engine, Bing, designed to intuitively understand what people are seeking on the Internet and challenge online king Google. The US software colossus described Bing as a "Decision Engine" and said it will be deployed worldwide at by Wednesday. Bing's launch comes in the wake of Google and Yahoo! announcing refinements to their search services and the launch of a Wolfram Alpha query engine that delivers answers instead of lists of websites. "Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don't do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. "When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web." Bing relies predominately on algorithms and key words to provide results for online searches but has infused some semantic technology that deduces intended meanings of phrases, according to Microsoft. "The Bing service is a first step," said Whitney Burk, director of communications for Bing. "We still have plenty of work to do and we are excited to get it out into the wild next week." Bing will replace MSN Live Search, which has languished in a distant third place behind market-leading Google and second-place Yahoo! Bing is vastly better than Microsoft's Live but doesn't outshine Google when it comes to general Internet search, according to analyst Matt Rosoff of private firm Directions On Microsoft. "They want to give you more information without having to click through to a lot of other sites," said Rosoff, who has used Bing during the past month as part of a Microsoft test program. "I like it, but I don't think it will get me to switch from Google entirely. They are not naive to the scope of the challenge. They are going to keep throwing money at it for awhile." The search engine is aimed at online shoppers and will initially focus on helping people make buying decisions, plan trips, research health matters, or find local businesses. For example, people using Bing to shop online will automatically be provided product reviews and those planning trips will get information regarding travel bargains. Bing has a "Best Match" feature that identifies and gives high priority to answers that seem to best fit queries. "Quick Tabs" that appear automatically on search results pages recommend query refinements. As examples, searches on cities could trigger tabs for information regarding weather or tourist attractions while queries on films might prompt tabs for movie sound tracks or actor biographies. Semantic technology is used for online research quests on topics along the lines of "Was Albert Einstein married?" Documents or videos can be previewed without clicking through to links. "The most popular button in search today is the 'Back' button," Burk said. " "You shouldn't need a degree in computer science to find something on the Internet . Bing is really designed to help people narrow in on things faster and make smarter decisions." Bing gives Microsoft "a leg up" on competitors but is more likely to lure users from Yahoo! because "Google is too much of a habit for everyone," Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk said in a blog post. "Microsoft's Bing will change the face of search," VanBoskirk wrote. "Bing focuses on delivering answers, not Web pages." In what is a growing online search trend, Bing delves into websites to summarize what they have to offer in easily scanned preview boxes. "We are trying to surface functionality right to the top so people don't have to look for it quite so hard," Burk said. Microsoft cited study results indicating that an estimated 30 percent of online searches are abandoned out of frustration and that searchers often fail to get what they seek on a first try.



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