Bing revamped with clearer social content

Microsoft’s rolling out its first big update to Bing since the search engine first launched three years ago.

The new release incorporates social results from Facebook and Twitter in a separate sidebar on the right – information such as which friends might be able to help with the search, and relevant posts and ‘likes’.

“For example, if you’re searching for diving spots in Costa Rica, with the new Bing, you may discover that one of your Facebook friends knows a great spot, based on photos from their last trip to Costa Rica that they shared on Facebook,” the company explains on its search blog.

“Or you might find a friend who lives in Costa Rica based on his or her Facebook profile. You and your friends can only see information you could already see about each other on Facebook.”

The change will satisfy users who complained that the previous layout, with social results incorporated into the main list, was cluttered and confusing.

‘Core’ web results now appear on the left of the page, with a ‘snapsot column at the center. This offers tasks related to the query: a search for restaurants, for example, will trigger maps and reservations pages.

Microsoft’s problem is that users are still sticking with Google search, which has two thirds of the market, compared with Bing’s 15 percent or so. This is despite the fact that, the company claims, we all actually prefer Bing.

“When shown unbranded search results, 43 percent prefer Bing results, while only 28 percent prefer Google results,” says Microsoft.

The new version will appear in the US over the next few days, with international and mobile device support to be included in coming weeks.