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Microsoft Builds A Better Bing

Search engine will feature prominent links to real-time information such as news, weather, and what's hot on social networks.
Microsoft kicked off the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York with news that it's planning to release a number of enhancements to its Bing search service in the coming weeks.

"Today at SES New York we shared with attendees our plans to begin testing some new Bing features as we start to move into the next wave of innovation which we will be rolling out later this spring and summer," wrote Microsoft group product manager Todd Schwartz, in a blog post Thursday.

"Our focus remains consistent, we want Bing to be the best place to help you make better decisions," wrote Schwartz.

Most notably, Microsoft is enhancing Bing's Quick Tabs feature, which delivers results based on what the search engine believes is the intent of the user's query.

For instance, a search on "Barcelona" yields tabs that give users one-click access to weather, news, and travel information related to the Spanish city.

Going forward, the information delivered through Quick Tabs will be displayed much more prominently, said Schwartz.

"Over the next few months we are going to test some new design concepts moving Quick Tabs functionality to the top of the page for 1-click access to our most robust, visual, and organized pages," wrote Schwartz.

Microsoft also plans to enhance Bing's ability to deliver real-time information.

For instance, a new feature will connect users who search for a particular news source, such as The New York Times, not only to the main site but also to links to the most popular stories, based on what's being shared across social networks like Facebook and Twitter at any given time.

Additionally, Microsoft unveiled a new application that integrates data from the location-based social networking service Foursquare.

"Let's say you're travelling to New York City for the week, but you don't know what's hot in Greenwich Village. Selecting the foursquare Map App in Bing Maps, and zooming into to Greenwich Village will get you tips that show you what locals are saying about the hot spots in that area," said Schwartz.

Microsoft's efforts to enhance Bing are paying off. The company's share of U.S. search traffic increased to 11.5% in February from 10.7% in January, according to figures released earlier this month by market watcher comScore. Yahoo, currently the number two player in the market, saw its share fall from 17% to 16.8% over the same period.

Market leader Google, meanwhile, enjoyed an increase of just .1%, from 65.4% in January to 65.5% in February, comScore said.

Microsoft is planning a phased roll out of the new Bing features over the next several weeks.

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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer