Microsoft search guru outlines big Bing changes

Microsoft’s top search guy took to the Web today to show off a refreshed interface for Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, said the design better incorporates the user’s social media contacts in a new sidebar which brings in their Facebook and Twitter contacts relevant posts.

According to the accompanying press statement, the new Sidebar will bring the user more pertinent information on the search based on his or her contacts.

When searching on a topic, a list of Facebook friends who may know about it shows up in a light-gray sidebar on the right-side of the results page. Said Sandy Wong, principal development lead for Bing:

So if you query ‘Hawaii,’ user models in the network look at public information in your profile such as where your friends live or have lived, what they’ve liked on Facebook, and photos — and turn up a list of people who likely have information relevant to your query. You’ll still see search results for Hawaii within the traditional Web search results. But now you’ll also be able to consider the advice of your friends who may know something about Hawaii.

Microsoft is clearly taking advantage of its stake in Facebook in a bid to gain ground on perennial search leader Google.  But despite billions of dollars and man-years of development work, Bing hasn’t made much of a dent in Google market share. In Comscore’s most recent numbers,  Google accounted for 66.4 percent of U.S. searches in March, compared to 15.3 percent for Microsoft.

Stay tuned for updates.

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