Microsoft announces its latest Bing search overhaul plans

The latest Bing update, coming to U.S. users soon, includes a less-cluttered results page, plus new social features displayed in a three-column layout.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is changing the look and feel of the Bing interface, turning it into a three-column design with new "Snapshot" and "Sidebar" panes added.

Microsoft officials are calling it the biggest update of Bing since the search engine was launched three years ago.

The core of the new design is the new more Metro-ish search results page that Microsoft showed off last week. In addition to delivering less cluttered look-and-feel, Microsoft made changes under the covers, resulting in search results calculating faster and more accurately, officials said last week.

The new additions which are coming later include snapshot and sidebar. Snapshot allows users to see information related to their searches "compiled by Bing" in a separate column. (I wonder if Microsoft contemplated making this available in a separate tab or window, as the Bing team briefly tested displaying search results this way, but then pulled the test due to negative outcry from users who didn't realize they were part of an unannounced test program.)

The sidebar, in a third column which is separate from the main Web results page, allows users to see what their contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ like and recommend related to their results. It's social search in a separate pane for those who like this kind of input. (Me? I'll not be turning this one on.) Facebook helped influence Microsoft's design of this component.

Microsoft is releasing the new Bing to U.S. users "in the coming days," according to a post on May 10 on the Bing blog. (The press release says it will happen in early June.) Those interested in being notified of its availabilty can sign up for a notification on the bing.com page. No word from the Softies as to when it will be rolled out outside the U.S.

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