Rather than fielding a month of "decoy" logos, Microsoft cut to the chase on September 17 and debuted a new Bing search-engine logo and site refresh.
Microsoft officials are describing the Bing updates as a rearchitecting of the company's "brand vision" so that it's more in alignment with its product roadmap.
As some of us Microsoft watchers have been noticing for a while now, "Bing is no longer just a search engine on a web page," as Scott Erickson, Senior Director of Brand and Creatived for Bing, concedes in a new blog post. Bing is now "a brand that combines search technology across products you use every day to help empower you with insights," Erickson said.
Among the growing number of Microsoft products that integrate Bing's back-end machine-learning technology are the voice search in the Xbox Kinect sensor; the image/map embedding in Office documents; the translation functionality in Windows Phone and the Bing AppEx applications for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Bing's back-end tech also is what will power "Cortana," Microsoft's alternative to Siri and Google Now (though today's blog post doesn't mention Cortana).
That said, Microsoft isn't totally giving up on the idea of Bing.com as a search destination. In addition to the new Bing logo (which uses the Segoe font, at right), Microsoft also has redesigned its Bing.com site in the hopes of making it "faster, cleaner and more visually appealing." Users can check it out at www.bing.com/new, starting later today.
The new Bing design combines the "Snapshot" and "Sidebar" functionality, which Microsoft made part of Bing.com last year. When using the new Bing, the combined region provides basic information users may be searching for -- basic factual data -- plus "the human perspective" in the form of status updates, photos, tweets, check-ins or "expert opinions.
The current three-column Bing.com design is being recast as a two-column design. The combined Snapshot and Sidebar are now available to the right of the core search results. This combined second column in the new layout combines information about entities (people, places and things) from Bing's Satori search repository, as well as related infromation from social networks, a spokesperson confirmed. The core Bing search algorithm will continue to be refined over time, the spokesperson confirmed.
The new Bing layout will work across a variety of devices, adjusting automatically to both the size of a screen and the context of a user, improving the likelihood that Bing will present the right experience at the right time, the Softies said.
"Results should look as beautiful on a Surface or iPad as they do on a PC or phone," according to officials in a related blog post.
As inevitable with all things Bing, the updated Bing.com experience will only be available in the U.S. to start. Microsoft hopes to expand globally over time, but for now, has no additional information as to when/how this will happen, a spokesperson said when I asked. In the U.S., users will see the new Bing.com page "over the coming weeks."