Microsoft demonstrates more Bing 2.0 features and shares new user stats
Microsoft sent a bunch of its top search execs to San Francisco on December 2 to show off more of what's part of the Bing 2.0 fall refresh of the company's search engine. Some of these enhancements are here (in beta form) today; others are coming over the next few days. Even more interesting are some of the stats the Microsoft execs shared about usage patterns for Bing.
Microsoft sent a bunch of its top search execs to San Francisco on December 2 to show off more of what's part of the Bing 2.0 fall refresh of the company's search engine.
Microsoft announced the Bing fall refresh on November 11 and said to expect the new features to be rolled out over the coming weeks. To be clear, Microsoft doesn't like to call these Bing 2.0, but that's what employees at the company dubbed this update earlier this summer; Microsoft officials prefer to call these features examples of the "continuous improvements and updates" to Bing.
According to reports of folks in the San Francisco audience, Microsoft execs demonstrated a number of new visual-search add-ons, the new Bing Mobile search client and Silverlight-powered Bing maps. They also showed off "entity cards" and "task pages," two more ways Microsoft is attempting to differentiate Bing from Google, presentation-wise, and to make searches more relevant.
Microsoft officials told attendees that Bing's greatest growth is coming from the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, to whom videos, shopping and image search are all important. Microsoft execs told event attendees that 50 percent of time in search engines is spent on sessions that are longer than 30 minutes and 60 percent of sessions include four queries or more. (I'd posit the length and number of queries could be related to the difficulty of finding the information being searched for, but that didn't seem to come up in today's remarks.)
Microsoft's own internal survey found these to be the most popular queries from Bing searchers:
* The beta version Bing Maps that uses Silverlight and Photosynth imagery, available today. There's also Twitter Maps "for real-time updates by area and Local Lens featuring hyperlocal, neighborhood content."
* A new Bing Windows Mobile app that includes improved auto-locate and voice search that is due to be rolled out over the next few days.
* A new Bing toolbar "which flags online content and alerts you when you're about to make a purchase that qualifies for Bing cashback."
It will be interesting to see what Google announces on the search front next week on December 7 and whether Microsoft managed to grab any mind share by going out publicly with its latest demos days before Google holds its dog and pony show....