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Searching for Bing Answers

We speak with Stefan Weitz, director of search at Microsoft, to find out where Bing came from, what it does and where it's going.

Redmond: What is Bing?
Weitz: Bing is a search service that will help people make faster, more informed decisions. Research indicates people are using [Internet] searches today to make decisions above and beyond simple navigation.

How is Bing different?
It's a decision engine: a tool built on great search to help people make more informed choices faster.

The core to a great search experience is relevance of results, and we've continued to make strides in relevance. With Bing we're introducing features such as Best Match, where we clearly highlight the "best result" when we think one exists. We also provide hard-to-find information, like customer-service phone numbers, right on the search page, when available. Bing also delivers a more organized experience. Content on the Web is increasingly dynamic, and customers are routinely looking for text, audio, video and image content. We built Bing to better return results that include all of these content types. Bing also offers high-quality, instant answers or video previews right on the results page for common queries to help you find just the page you're looking for.

"The core to a great search experience is relevance of results, and we've continued to make strides in relevance."

Stefan Weitz, Director of Search, Microsoft

Bing also takes into account that people repeat searches over 50 percent of the time and conduct sessions rather than individual queries. Bing's search-history feature helps people get back to previous queries and see what sites they visited within a session to reduce the amount of time having to re-find something.

Is Bing simply an extension of MSN Live Search?
No. Bing is the new decision engine offered by Microsoft. The search box on MSN is now powered by Bing.

For example, we incorporated all of the great features of Farecast into Bing Travel and added many new features to help consumers make smart travel decisions.

Additionally, with Bing shopping, we've improved the experience by offering

consumers tools to help them easily find and digest reams of information in customer and expert reviews; search for a product based on specific features or price points; and find the best deals available, including savings from Bing "cashback."

What are your plans for desktop search?
Windows Search in Windows 7 allows you to instantly locate and open virtually any file on your PC -- from documents to e-mails to songs -- right from the Start menu just by typing a word or two.

In Windows 7 Enterprise, Federated Search supports searching for documents beyond the user's own PC. Developers and IT professionals can enable their search engines, document repositories, Web applications and proprietary data stores to be searched from Windows 7 without needing to write and deploy client code. This enables end users to search their corporate intranet or the Web as easily as they can search their local files -- all from within the same familiar Windows interface.

What does Bing currently offer to the enterprise?
We offer Bing Maps for Enterprise, an enterprise mapping platform that compiles road data, satellite imagery, aerial photography, local listings and a 3-D browser into a single mapping platform that supports both Bing Maps and our enterprise customer base. We recently announced availability of Photosynth for commercial use as part of Bing Maps for Enterprise, and there's more to come, so stay tuned.

What are your plans for integrating Bing with your existing Enterprise Search tools?
Internet search and enterprise search are different domains, and we're pursuing different strategies to deliver on this vision. Bing connects people to information scattered across the Web sites that make up the World Wide Web and provides a user experience optimized for decision-making in key vertical areas. Our Enterprise Search products are used by companies to provide access to the information in a business.

About the Author

David Barney is a Massachusetts-based freelancer.

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