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Bing: What to Expect (Hint: It's More Than Just a Live Search Rebrand)

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Yes, Microsoft's Bing is a rebranding of Live Search, but there are added features which make it a whole new search engine from the software giant.

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What's being carried over from Live Search include the homepage images with hotspots, deep links, Instant Answers, xRank and a slew of features on the local, video, and image searches. Search suggestions are now called "Auto-Suggest." As reported earlier, programs like Cashback and sites like Farecast will be rebranded under the Bing brand.

Here's what's new:

Web Groups affect the way results appear. Certain search terms will have results that are categorized. For example, if you search for a city, you may get groups of results sorted according to restaurants, hotels, weather, airport information and more. A search for a celebrity may sort results according to biography, movies, images, etc. Powerset plays a key role in these groupings. Here are the categories that will be affected by Web Groups:

  • Automobiles (car models, car manufacturers)
  • Travel/local (countries, cities, states and points of interest such as stadiums, parks and passes)
  • People (celebrities, athletes, musicians, bands, politicians, etc.)
  • Sports (teams from the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB)
  • Health (cancer, diet, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, symptoms, genetic and conditional disease, injury trauma)
  • Entertainment (popular television shows and movies)
  • Retail (certain electronics such as cameras, cell phones and optics products)
  • Events (Oscars, Fourth of July, NASCAR, etc.)

Bing Health is going to include more content directly in the web results. In the screenshot below, you can see how a search for "influenza" brings Quick Tabs in the Explore Pane. When articles is selected, actual articles appear in the results. Content will be provided by nine trusted medical sources including Mayo Clinic, the American Cancer Society and MedlinePlus.

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Best Match is designed to make the most helpful information stand out from the rest. If you're searching for UPS, obviously the UPS site should be first and foremost. Included with the result are deep links and a customer service number. There's also a box in the search results where you can type in a number to track a package.

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Quick Previews allow searchers to mouseover results and see more information from the site behind the result. Microsoft says up to 24% of clicks result in a quick click back to search results because searchers quickly realize a page isn't what they're looking for. Quick previews can help prevent those unnecessary clicks.

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The Explore Pane is a lefthand sidebar that serves up Recommended Searches (previously on the right hand side in Live Search) as well as search history and quick tabs to information relevant to your search.

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Bing will also be available for mobile devices and will power Microsoft's Windows Live and MSN toolbars.

Bing isn't available for public use until next week, but what are your impressions of this preview? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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