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Bing Search Gets The Facebook Effect

Microsoft's search engine overhaul adds social networking results, improved localization, and more intuitive page design.

As part of a wide-ranging overhaul, Microsoft's Bing search engine will incorporate data from users' Facebook networks to deliver more relevant results, a company official said.

The upgrade, to be rolled out over the next several weeks, will also add tools that localize results while attempting to do a better job determining the user's intent and presenting a more visually intuitive experience, according to Satya Nadella, senior VP in Microsoft' Online Services division.

"We are building new technologies that help Bing figure out what people like you are trying to do, and match that with the right experiences to help get things done," said Nadella, in a blog post Wednesday aimed at Bing users.

"The core of our work addresses the fact that the Web is getting more complex and faceted—not less. At the same time, your time is being compressed more than ever," said Nadella. "But this ever evolving Web provides footholds on which Bing can build that can help cut through the noise," he said.

Among the Facebook factors that will influence search results is the number of times a particular link has been "Liked" by the user's friends. Nadella said the feature will make Bing "a socially relevant experience that uses Facebook and other social networks to provide Bing with the intelligence to start using your network of friends to help make decisions, just as you would in real life."

Also coming to Bing is better support for GPS data from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. That will allow Bing to fine tune results based on the user's location. Bing will also add algorithms that aim to determine the intent of a search. For instance, a search on "San Francisco" and "hotels" could yield results that include deep links to online hotel reservation systems.

Microsoft is also upgrading Bing's interface so that all of this information, regardless of source, is presented to the user in a unified manner. "The information should self-assemble on the page in a logical order that moves searchers from idea to action," said Nadella.

The efforts are part of Microsoft's campaign to make Bing a legitimate rival to Google, which dominates Internet search and search-based advertising. Microsoft is making a dent, but barely. Its share of U.S. Internet search increased .3% from October to November, to 11.85%, according to data released Wednesday by market watcher ComScore. Google's share fell by .1%, to 66.2%.

Market share for Yahoo searches, which are powered by Bing under an alliance with Microsoft, fell .1%, to 16.5%.

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