How Microsoft's Bing-related research is funneling back into products

How Microsoft's Bing-related research is funneling back into products

Summary: Microsoft researchers' work is finding a home in Bing-related products and technologies. The latest example: Bing Mobile's coming voice search enhancements.


Microsoft officials have been attempting to make more explicit how Microsoft Research (MSR) projects end up benefiting the company on the commercial-product front. One way they've attempted to do this is by publishing lists of research technologies that end up "transferring" to product groups.


In looking at these lists recently, I was struck by how many MSR projects are influencing Bing.

Some of these, like the work by MSR to improve the accuracy of speech in Microsoft's cloud-based speech recognition systems, have shown up relatively quickly as new features in products like Windows Phone's Bing voice-search capability. And based on a new TechFest 2013 video clip uncovered by Microsoft watcher Stephen Chapman, it looks like the Windows Phone team is poised to adopt even more of the work from Microsoft researchers to improve the error rate and latency issues around Bing Mobile's voice search.

Bing Mobile voice search is just the tip of the transer iceberg. Look at the list of other Bing-related Microsoft Research projects that have moved to Microsoft's product groups in the past two years alone:

PingMesh: A full-mesh latency monitoring system that provides a key capability for deep understanding on end-to-end network latency characteristics crucial for Bing’s applications and services.

Dictionary: For those seeking to learn a foreign language, researchers created an approach to flash card–based learning in which news items are drilled into short-term memory for immediate prospective use.

Zozzle: A system that identifies malicious Web pages.  Zozzle is designed to perform static analysis of JavaScript code on a given site and quickly determine whether the code is malicious and includes an exploit. 

Engkoo: Microsoft Research Asia contributed a new feature for Engkoo to make it easier for ESL Chinese users to complete their English tasks in Bing.

PNav: An algorithm that predicts which Web search results a user will click for repeat queries.

Large-Scale Face Image Search: Incorporated into Bing multimedia search to index and show images from a search query.

ScopeStudio: Researchers collaborated on static code analysis that allows SCOPE developers to discover certain types of issues and defects earlier in the development cycle before actually submitting a job to a Cosmos cluster.

Bing Translator Widget: This feature evolved into a BingBar button for 40+ languages. The feature also lets people know when the BingBar can help with something being done online, like translating a word, sentence or article.

Bing Translation: Researchers teamed up with Windows Phone engineers to create the Translator app for Windows Phone that uses the same translation technology powering the Bing translator to help people understand languages by translating text, audio, and video inputs

Bing Dictionary: In collaboration with both Bing and Office teams, researchers developed the Bing English Assistance feature -- an English monolingual dictionary -- that is available for English language versions of Office 2013.

TV (Leibniz): Researchers leveraged machine learning algorithms to create the ability to sync technology, product, and service for matching movies and TV shows/episodes. Leibniz was first deployed in Bing as the basis for Entity Actions, making Bing a task engine, starting with automatic tasks such as renting and streaming movies and TV shows.

All this is just another reminder to those who think Microsoft might be gearing up to sell off Bing that this is pretty unlikely. Search seems to see it as an area in which the company is going to continue to invest.

And while we're talking Bing, the Bing team added more features to its Snapshot "Answers at a Glance" feature this week. Microsoft originally rolled out Snapshot for Bing last June.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Windows Phone


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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  • I prefer google

    For search but I recently watched a talk by one of the leaders of the Bing team explaining their plans to embed Bing functionality into apps and widgets. It made a lot of sense. MS has a huge research budget and talented developers. I suspect that in a few years a dedicated search page will be like the yellow pages. They will still be around but very few people will use them.
    • The Captain Kirk principle

      If the rules of the game are stacked against you, redefine the game.

      I think MS should leverage its strong position in the enterprise, to make available to companies, vertically optimized searches - by industry, etc.. Over time, this could help bias individuals in businesses towards Bing, and allow this behavior to spill over into these individuals' consumer habits. (At the very least, it could be a significant source of income for Bing by itself.)
      P. Douglas
      • Continued

        MS e.g. could offer a Bing service, which could return results on a company's data, with the results combined with web searches tuned for certain vertical markets, such as medical, electrical engineering, etc. Companies which do not want MS handling their data, could be given Bing servers, and the Bing service could cull information from the servers, along with fine tuned data from the web. Companies could even turn back and offer their data to be available as a service to other organizations, allowing Bing e.g. to offer to a university, data searches of the NIH, other universities, private industry data repositories, the web, as well as the university's own repository of data.

        MS could complement the above with a rich Windows, Office app, which allowed users to build simple to complex data searches graphically with an Office app. Searches could be saved, edited, etc.
        P. Douglas
  • Simply ststed I feel Bing is for play

    and Google is for getting it right the first time
    Over and Out
    • Blind testing shows users 2 to 1 think Bing has better search results

      Not to mention the facebook connections for recommendations. Bing is hands down better now.
      Johnny Vegas
      • Oh like the TV commerical?

        Could the blind testing you quote be paid for by you know who?

        Bing, Ask or Yahoo are still years away from doing real searches like Google does.
        Over and Out
        • realise now

          how many searches does made this conclusion. for every search i did in both bing and google atleast 8 of 10 are same
    • not my experience

      With Google I usually go to page three before looking at results, with Bing the ones I'm interested in are usually nearer the beginning
  • Built into to Google for years

    Dictionary and translate has been built into Google search for years and then those function get cascaded down to their other products. What are they research? They should be working on a Google Now, Siri competitor.
    • bing maps needs tp update very frequently

      also the maps. most of searches are realated to maps these days.
  • Bing results are better than google.

    Google has lost the technological edge in search. The only reason a lot of people use Google is because they are used to it or they simply haven't tried it or is not aware how good it is.

    Bing needs to improve its global coverage, there are many developing countries where Bing coverage is much worse than Google.
  • How Microsoft's Bing-related research is funneling back into products

    Bing is awesome. Always gives me relevant results instead of pages of spam and unrelated queries.
    • Lies.

      Google gives me relevant results and Bing leads to porn sites.
  • I've used both Bing and Google

    I still prefer Google. It gives me the most accurate search results. Other people might experience that Bing works better for them, though. People are different.
  • Bing is good for MS

    Even losing money they obviously should keep Bing in the house.
    I was about to say Bing and Google are similar regarding search quality, but then I've tried to search for Cyprus on both - that is all over the news recently - and I'm not sure anymore if they are really similar (using opera mobile).

    As for search share, Bing has a very tough job ahead, when there are 600 millions android phones it's hard...