Microsoft re-invents itself in search with Bing

Today, Microsoft officially unleashed Bing upon the world. It's a brand that will be associated with intelligent search, and is hence classified as a "Decision Engine," rather than a search engine. Rollout of the new service (to be located at begins over the next few days and will be completed in under a week, with the target deployment date of June third.

Click the Bing logo for slideshow.

Bing will not be limited to just Web search, and will include Microsoft Virtual Earth, which has been re-branded Bing Maps, and Bing Travel, a service built from Microsoft's acquisition of Farecast, as well as Bing Local, Bing Health, Bing Shopping, and Bing Cashback, formerly known as Live Search Cashback.

The total package sounds similar to current search leaders Google and Yahoo. But this morning at the D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Senior Vice President of Microsoft's Online Audience Business Group Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated Bing and how it differs from those popular search engines.

The most common button to hit on a search page, Ballmer said, is "Back," so the idea is to provide the most relevant match and keep the user from clicking away to a less-than-informative link. In most cases, the first link will be to an "official site," where there is one, then it will immediately be followed by specific related data. A search for "Fourth of July," for example, brings up the Encarta definition of the US holiday, including what day of the week it will occur this year. All of the subsequent listings, such as the link to Wikipedia, can then be hovered over and expanded to show the site's text, meaning that in many cases the user will not even need to venture away from Bing.

Ballmer said, "Look we're obviously where we are in search and we want to do better...We're hoping to be one of the companies that moves the industry forward...The PC business continues to be big, we're going through an economic reset, but there's still vibrance there."

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