Microsoft announces its latest Bing search overhaul plans

Microsoft announces its latest Bing search overhaul plans

Summary: The latest Bing update, coming to U.S. users soon, includes a less-cluttered results page, plus new social features displayed in a three-column layout.


Microsoft is changing the look and feel of the Bing interface, turning it into a three-column design with new "Snapshot" and "Sidebar" panes added.

Microsoft officials are calling it the biggest update of Bing since the search engine was launched three years ago.

The core of the new design is the new more Metro-ish search results page that Microsoft showed off last week. In addition to delivering less cluttered look-and-feel, Microsoft made changes under the covers, resulting in search results calculating faster and more accurately, officials said last week.

The new additions which are coming later include snapshot and sidebar. Snapshot allows users to see information related to their searches "compiled by Bing" in a separate column. (I wonder if Microsoft contemplated making this available in a separate tab or window, as the Bing team briefly tested displaying search results this way, but then pulled the test due to negative outcry from users who didn't realize they were part of an unannounced test program.)

The sidebar, in a third column which is separate from the main Web results page, allows users to see what their contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ like and recommend related to their results. It's social search in a separate pane for those who like this kind of input. (Me? I'll not be turning this one on.) Facebook helped influence Microsoft's design of this component.

Microsoft is releasing the new Bing to U.S. users "in the coming days," according to a post on May 10 on the Bing blog. (The press release says it will happen in early June.) Those interested in being notified of its availabilty can sign up for a notification on the page. No word from the Softies as to when it will be rolled out outside the U.S.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Social Enterprise


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • as long as

    I can turn off that facebook pane, it's fine with me, I could care less what anybody else thinks
    • Agreed

      Agreed, I make my own decisions. why is that faacebook pane black - looks out of place IMO
    • Trends is a good indicator of what's important now

      I don't use FB for that but Twitter though.
      I'll continue to refuse Bing because of its lack of relevant results.
      That Google is big isn't because it's so hip, but because it can give the excellent results we expect. I expect Bing to continue to suck.
  • I just want... option to keep it simple as possible. Or else, make it more than just "social" stuff. I'll click "share" from the site if I feel like it.
  • Good to bad!

    Microsoft always seems to take a good product and keep playing with it till people don't like it. Why do they do that? I have been seeing changes in bing over the past few weeks and don't like what I have seen. I will not like social search in my bing search. If I want to see facebook crap then I will go to facebook!
    • Yeah but this seems ok

      But you are right, they usually do mess things up--probably as a result of some focus meeting.
    • Huh???

      You can turn it off.
      • No you can't

        At least not permanently. Not unless you have their cookie permanently enabled in your settings. Otherwise your browser won't remember it, giving Bing a good excuse to do what Google does. Spy on you.
  • I might start using bing

    I could never use it before because of the fading image in the navigation would weird my eyes out. Now that it's clean and they've added this second column (which I like the idea of) I might start using Bing. The Facebook thing is ok. I'll leave it on bc you never know but I doubt it'll be much help.
  • Thanks for writing about our new features.

    I'd like to clarify that the sidebar shows people from various blogs and social networks who are influential about your queried topic. If you choose to login with Facebook, your friends who might know are also shown.

    We wanted to make sure the sidebar content wasn't confused with the search results and created a contrasting visual experience to help frame the results.

    We definitely want to hear feedback from folks, so I encourage everyone to sign up for the preview at and let us know what you think.

    Prasanth Pulavarthi
    Bing Program Manager
    • No thanks

      I don't need to "sign up" for anything. You'll figure it out when no one uses it.
    • So you're one of the idi0ts that created this?

      Good to know. ;)
      • Don't you have a vocabulary besides, "idiots" and "penis" and "azzhole" and


        Stop annoying the adults and tell your momma to send you to school to learn some new words.
      • LOL! - - - @adornoe@... forgot to take his meds

        Man you are one whack job, ya know that?

        Come back when Ted & Larry have you stabilized.

        more lol... :D
      • Scorpio: No, buddy, Larry and Ted are exclusively yours,

        and they wouldn't even think about getting close to me, since, I'm not their type, and you, quite obviously are.
    • Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass....

      Hello, Prasanth:

      Sorry, I won't be signing up for the preview .. or ever using Bing. I'm totally sick and tired of the push that we all have to be (as used in another comment) 'sheep' and surround ourselves with social networking. After all, none of us can survive without knowing what everyone is doing/saying/thinking/liking .. every second of every day. Right?

      I, too, am one who makes my own decisions and when I search for something, I'll be the one to make the determination.

      You, and others here, may be interested in reading 'Filter Bubble,' an excellent book about how the results on search engines are manipulated. From Wikipedia, search engines guess: "...what information a user would like to see, based on information about the user (such as location, past click behaviour and search history). As a result, websites tend to show only information which agrees with the user's past viewpoint, effectively isolating the user in a bubble that tends to exclude contrary information" So you get less exposure to other viewpoints and become 'intellectually isolated.' 'Interesting' to contemplate ...

      No, I don't use Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ either.
  • Does nothing for me

    Tried Bing a few times.
    Never have really liked it.
    This doesn't change my opinion at all.
    Back to Google.
  • Twitter Question on Bing

    If we sign up to follow on Twitter does that mean that we will be following the people we normally follow or everyone. I think it would be useful if I could follow the people I usually follow from there.
    • I've

      I've always wondered what sort of groupie "follows" anyone.
  • The out cry from the bing test is just the begining. Wait till windows 8

    The key to that out cry is "adding metro like features to BING". Anything metro will have that effect.

    Negative out cry for bing will be nothing compared to windows 8.
    It will bee so bad that MS will have no choice to re-release Windows 7.