Bing – the search engine launched by Microsoft is all set to undergo a major site renovation – a new sidebar will get featured showing information from Facebook and other social networks.
Microsoft has gone on to hail it as the “new Bing”. It is said to consist of three columns on the search results page. The widest of the three is the far left column and will list traditional search links. In the middle, a “Snapshot” pane shows relevant information directly on the search page, such as restaurant reviews, maps and hotel room rates. On the far right, a gray “Sidebar” shows social search results.
There is a general consent to the sidebar posing to be the most interesting part of the makeover. This feature enables users to pose their question to their Facebook friends directly from the search page. In turn, they will be provided with a list of who might know about the given topic. Users will also be able to add comments on Facebook and pin Bing searches to their posts using the Sidebar.
The Sidebar will allow users to exploit the suggestions given by “top experts and enthusiasts” based on their knowledge about a topic, their public postings on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Qoura, LinkedIn and Blogger. Google+ users also can make full use of this feature. You as the user will also be presented with an activity feed on the bottom half the Sidebar, an activity feed showing posts from Facebook friends who’ve chosen to share with you and everyone else using Bing.
The new addition by Bing to its search engine will surely hurt Google on the way it handles social search. Despite Google introducing the “Search Plus Your World” option, Google search results will now be showing an option for “personal results” at the top of the page. Although Google+ data will get prominent treatment in the main search column, other search results may get affected by the user’s Google+ contacts.
In a recent blog post, Bing’s Derrick Connell and Harry Shum had decided to take a head-on dig at Google’s approach (without mentioning the company by name that is) by citing: “Instead of cluttering your results with social updates, we’re honoring the purity of the core web results making it easier to focus on the links you need to get things done”.
It must be mentioned that Microsoft has a long history of access with Facebook – as Microsoft was an early investor in Facebook – resulting in several product partnerships through the years. On the other hand, Google had recently entered the social networking scenario by launching its own with Google+. However, it must be observed that the network is not nearly as popular as Facebook. Google is trying to set amends and increase the potential user-base in the social network scenario by incorporating it with other products. Critics however have thumped down this approach adopted by Google stating the company has lost focus on core search.
From a user’s perspective, the Sidebar being introduced by Bing will seem like a more sensible way to bring together both social networking and traditional search. For this, we just need to wait and see what Microsoft will say in the coming days when it rolls out with the new Bing. Users who can’t wait to catch the first look of the Sidebar and other accompanying features can can sign up for an e-mail alert.