Bing's Facebook-inspired redesign

Microsoft's search engine just unveiled a flashy new makeover to compete with Google.

By May 11, 2012 5:22PM

Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing is about to get more user friendly thanks to a Facebook-inspired makeover. The new three-column results layout, set to debut over the next few weeks, is Microsoft's first foray into social search-results. The main column will still emphasize core web results, while a center "Snapshot" section provides instant access to services like restaurant rankings or hotel comparisons. On the far right is the most notable addition, a grey-colored "Sidebar" that allows a searcher to scour Facebook and other social networks for answers (examples here). (Microsoft owns and publishes TechBiz, an MSN Money site.)


The new Bing has a clear philosophical difference from Google's (GOOG) contentious take on social search, which obtrusively mixes Google Plus search results in with a user's main feed. "We're honoring the purity of the core web results making it easier to focus on the links you need to get things done," writes Bing in a blog post.

Could the savvy new redesign snag a few Googlers away?

This relaunch comes at the perfect time: In January, many felt that Google's "Search Plus Your World" feature "shoved too much personal information and too much Google+ification into the listings," says Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. Now here's Bing, with a "clean redesign that looks like the Google of old, with social shoved off to the side where it's around if you want it, but not in your face."

Googlers will probably stay put, though:
"Google has its massive reach in its corner," says Molly McHugh at Digital Trends. Bing, which recently flew past Yahoo (YHOO) as the world's second most popular search engine, still has to get people to try it, which is easier said than done. When it comes time to open up a search tab, "one of the largest hurdles for the service will be breaking our Google search reflexes." And even if Bing may very well be worth a try, will defectors stay for good?

Bing offers the cleanest search in years:
The new Bing works exactly as advertised, says Lance Ulanoff at Mashable, and that's great news. "I tried a bunch of searches like 'Barcelona,' 'Tesla,' and 'Broadway.'" In each case, the Sidebar "filled up with people who had, for instance, posted photos of Nicola Tesla, or 'Liked' the 'Broadway League.'" Google sees the world as a blend of data and people that can be mined simultaneously for a "rich and useful experience." Bing sees a more structured world, with social and algorithmic results kept at a safe distance. "With this update, the competing search philosophies are clearer than ever." A little healthy competition is a good thing.

Sources: Search Engine Land, Digital Trends, Mashable, eWeek

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