Microsoft is rolling out a set of user interface and feature updates to Bing on Windows Phone 8. But the details as to who would get them and how were rather slim in Microsoft's August 6 blog posts announcing the rollout.
Word of the new updates began trickling out late last week. The current four categories of Bing search results on Windows Phone 8 -- Web, Local, Media and Shopping -- are being changed to Web, Images and Videos. Images and videos won't be loaded automatically in order to save bandwidth; they'll only load when users swipe over them.
The revamp also includes the introduction of Instant Answers to Windows Phone. To start off, Microsoft will be pushing ten of the Instant Answers available already on Bing on PCs to Windows Phones. The first ten include answers on queries involving traffic, flight status, exchange rates, word definitions and translations. Answers on these topics will appear at the top of the Web results. Twenty more categories of Instant Answers will be coming later, the blog post said. Microsoft also is bringing its Bing "Snapshot" feature to Windows Phone, too, as part of the Bing updates for Windows Phone.
These Bing updates are going to show up automatically on Windows Phone 8 devices in the U.S. "in the coming weeks." These updates will not be blocked or slowed by carriers, a Microsoft spokesperson said when I asked. Nor will they be dependent on the delivery of any Windows Phone OS updates (like GDR2, which is slowly being rolled out worldwide), the spokesperson confirmed. The updates are coming from Microsoft to users' Windows Phone 8 devices directly, the spokesperson said.
All international markets currently supported by Windows Phone will be getting the Bing updates "in the coming months," a spokesperson also confirmed.
There's no mention in Microsoft's blog posts about these updates coming to Windows Phone 7.x users. But Microsoft officials blogged that they already delivered similar functionality to Android-based phone and iPhone users via updates to the Bing apps on those platforms.
Update: Microsoft released a minor update to Skype for Windows Phone 8 on August 6. Included in the new 2.9 update is the ability to separate out Windows Phone and Skype contacts,