Bing and beyond: How Microsoft is attacking 'social search'

Like Facebook, Microsoft is focused on making search social. And it's not just via Bing that it's doing this.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

On the heels of Facebook's announcement of its coming Graph Search capabillity, Microsoft is beefing up its existing social sidebar in Bing with even more Facebook information.


If you're someone who thinks Facebook friends are the kinds of experts best suited to helping you pick a restaurant, a movie or make other decisions via your search decision engine, you may be glad to hear that you can now see "an average of five times more Facebook content" from your friends in the Bing sidebar. This includes status updates, shared links and comments in addition to the already displayable "likes," photos and profile information. (Like me, you also can continue to keep your Bing and Facebook accounts disconnected if you're not a social-search believer.)

Microsoft officials played up the increased Facebook integration in a January 17 Bing Community blog post. Two days ago, when Facebook announced its Graph Search technology, the Bing team reminded users that Microsoft is still providing Web search for Facebook. Bing isn't providing any of the back-end search for Graph Search, however.


Bing isn't the only team doing work on social search. A post by my ZDNet colleague Paula Rooney about the Neo4j graph database reminded me that Microsoft Research has been doing work in this space, too. I blogged about the MSR graph-database project, codenamed Trinity, a year ago.

"Trinity is a general purpose distributed graph system over a memory cloud," according to the Trinity page on the Microsoft Research site.  "Memory cloud is a globally addressable, in-memory key-value store over a cluster of machines. Through the distributed in-memory storage, Trinity provides fast random data access power over a large data set. This makes Trinity a natural large graph processing platform."

At that time, the Trinity code was available only via the Microsoft intranet. But it was still intriguing. As I noted last March, one potential use of Trinity is people search within a network. The Trinity applications page shows off as an example searching within a "Web-scale social network," like, say, Facebook.

In December 2012, the Microsoft Research Asia team members involved with Trinity posted the 64-page Trinity "manual" for download. The manual outlines the thinking behind the project; Trinity architecture; the way Trinity integrates with SQL Server and more. 

The Trinity code is still marked as for Intranet use (inside Microsoft) only -- for now.

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