Microsoft revamps Bing to include interactive social sidebar

The three-column interface also includes a 'snapshot' for more direct interaction with products and places

Bing will soon include a search interface that offers social search results in a separate column to the right of the returned links, Microsoft said on Thursday.

During a press demonstration at Microsoft's San Francisco offices Bing representatives described the new interface, which will shortly move from private to public beta, as an attempt to offer more direct interaction with "entities" and people.

"We're moving beyond the pages into entities. Those entities are people, places, things and their relationships," said Qi Lu, Microsoft's president of online services.

Using the new interface, query results for seafood restaurants in San Francisco, for example, include a grey column along the side that displays a "people you know who may know" section, with content on the subject shared by the searcher's social network connections, and a "people who know" section that highlights experts on the query topic across social networks.

"In the real world that's how it works: We use search, then we talk to people," Lu said.

The social sidebar integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The company expects to bring in LinkedIn, Quora and Foursquare as well. The user can interact on Facebook directly from the social sidebar. For instance, a user can post a question about a hotel and tag a friend who may have commented on it. The resulting Facebook posts include a link back to Bing's search page. Twitter interactions take the user to a Twitter interface, the company said.

A center "snapshot" column permits the user to interact with businesses from the search page. If the user searching for seafood restaurants hovers on a link to a particular restaurant, the column pops up, offering a map, available reservations and links to reviews. Integration with OpenTable makes it possible to make reservations without leaving the search page.

Bing's approach to social search is in stark contrast to Google's, which brings social results into the same list with traditional algorithmic results. The Bing interface previewed Thursday separated social content into a separate column with a background of a different color.

"You've started to see social be injected into the purity of the Web results, and nobody likes that," said Derrick Connell, vice president of program management at Microsoft.

The "people who know" section of the sidebar will explicitly rank people by their expertise in a particular area. Company representatives repeated several times how difficult a task that is, but emphasized that the social content will continue to improve over time.

"The experience won't be perfect, but the most important thing is that we make the leap and then the feedback cycle begins," Lu said.

It is also unclear how well the interface will work on a smartphone. The company previewed a "stacked" display of the links, snapshot and social sidebar for a mobile screen, but indicated that it expected to move to an interface that relies more on swiping.

Microsoft officials did not give a timeframe for the public beta release of the new interface, saying that it would be available "very soon."

Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Cameron Scott

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?