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Microsoft Rolls Out Bing Travel

Decision engine features direct links to online booking and purchasing tools.

Paul McDougall

June 4, 2009

2 Min Read

Microsoft on Thursday formally launched the travel section of its new Bing search engine.

In addition to search results, queries to Bing Travel yield direct links to tools that users can employ to book flights, hotel rooms, and other travel products. For instance, a search for "San Diego hotels" delivers property availability and pricing information.

"Bing Travel has a simple goal: help people make smarter, more informed decisions regarding travel," Bing Travel general manager Hugh Crean said in a statement. "Travelers face plenty of challenges -- from airport security and luggage restrictions to finding their hotel in an unknown city or trying to speak a foreign language. Researching and booking travel should be easy, and now Bing is here to help."

Such functionality lies behind Microsoft's labeling of Bing as a "decision engine" rather than a search engine. The software maker formally introduced the product last week and plans a major advertising campaign around it.

Microsoft acquired many of the tools behind Bing Travel through its buyout of online travel site Farecast. Among other things, Farecast used algorithms to predict the best time to purchase an airline ticket based on whether prices were rising or falling. Bing Travel offers the same feature.

Through the first nine months of 2008, Microsoft committed more than $1.5 billion to acquiring search or search-driven businesses -- including a $1.3 billion buyout of enterprise specialist Fast Search & Transfer.

Microsoft is hoping to catch up to Google in search market share. But the company has its work cut out for it. Google presently controls about 64% of the U.S. search market, while Microsoft owns only about 8% of the market, according to researchers at ComScore. Yahoo, the No. 2 player, holds 21% of the market.

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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