Microsoft has added a feature to Bing that allows the search engine to query the Internet for so-called real-time data, including postings from Twitter users.
"There has been much discussion of real-time search and the premium on immediacy of data that has been created primarily by Twitter," said Sean Suchter, general manager for Microsoft's Search Technology Center in Silicon Valley, in a blog post Wednesday.
"Today we're unveiling an initial foray into integrating more real-time data into our search results, starting with some of the more prominent and prolific Twitterers from a variety of spheres," wrote Suchter.
Among the Twitterers that Bing will index at the outset are Wall Street Journal tech columnist Kara Swisher and a number of Microsoft staffers. Bing will index "a few thousand" Twitter users in the project's early days, Suchter said.
"We're not indexing all of Twitter at this time..just a small set of prominent and prolific Twitterers to start," he wrote. The index includes Tweets from Al Gore, American Idol's Ryan Seacrest, and a number of other high-profile figures from the arts, politics, and technology.
Microsoft is looking to make a bigger splash in the search market. Through the first nine months of 2008 the company committed more than $1.5 billion to acquiring search, or search-driven businesses—including a $1.3 billion buyout of enterprise specialists Fast Search & Transfer.
It's positioning Bing not just as a search site, but as a so-called "decision engine." Bing includes features that allow users to book travel and engage in other e-commerce transactions with just a few clicks.
Redmond hopes to catch up to Google in search market share. But it's got its work cut out. Google presently controls about 65% of the U.S. search market, while Microsoft owns only about 8% of the market, according to ComScore. Yahoo, the number two player, held 20% of the market, as of May.