At an event in Los Angeles hosted by "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, Microsoft went public with some of what it's calling its Bing Spring updates on June 22. Tonight's focus is on what Microsoft is doing to enhance its entertainment search vertical.
Earlier today, with a little help from my friends, I pieced together one of these -- a tie-up between Bing and the Zune music service, via which Bing searchers can sample and purchase songs without leaving the Zune search site. (Microsoft says the new Bing Music feature also allows not just ZunePass users, but "all subscribers (to) purchase any of the millions of pure MP3s from the Zune catalogue directly over the web from Zune.net – anytime, anywhere."
But that's not the only Bing Spring Summer update unveiled this evening by the Softies this evening. Others include:
Bing TV: As TechFlash describes it, via "new partnerships with Hulu, Viacom and CBS," select shows "will be framed by the Bing interface but served up from the sites of those partners, which will still deliver video advertisements."
Bing Games: A subset of information that provides Bing users with "35,000 aggregated reviews, cheats, and walkthroughs for games," according to Microsoft's PR statement. The new search feature also allows users to play "nearly 100 top casual games in-line," inside of Bing.com. Casual games that are part of this include Bejewled, Hexix, and Bubble Town.
Bing Movies: A mash-up of visual search, customer reviews, in-line movie trailers, highlight videos and one-click purchasing, the new search subset is designed to help customers decide which movie to see. This feature is integrated with Bing Maps to help users "find parking, local restaurants and other information," according to Microsoft's PR statement.
But wait, there's even more to the spring updates than this. Microsoft blogger Paul Thurott has information on other Bing updates that are coming later this week, including:
Bing Travel enhancements: There are new updates via which Bing will provide combined travel answers for both flights and hotels.
Bing Health enhancements: As Thurrott explains it, there will be "inline access to clinical trial information, new content sources (Harvard Health, CDC, TeensHealth, and others), and instant table answers for common health-related questions like, 'what is the right blood pressure level?'"
Note: Looks like the Bing team is now calling these updates the "Summer" updates, rather than the Spring updates, as they were originally. Even though it's been anything but summer-like in the Redmond area so far this year, it is mid-June, after all. I am assuming they'll still do the usual Fall updates (as they've said they plan to do twice-yearly spring/fall "major" updates to Bing. But maybe we're now looking at "winter" updates instead?