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Microsoft Rolls Out Bing Improvements

Microsoft announced enhancements to its Bing Internet search service on Wednesday, including a new Bing Maps beta.

The beta lets users select a "streetside" view of a map at various magnifications. Google Maps has similar functionality, but Microsoft's version seems to offer more viewing options for the user.

Bing Maps also supports "mash-ins," which are search elements built on top of the display. For instance, a "local lens" mash-in lets users scan an area for local blogs within the map. There's also a mash-in to locate Twitter communications and one to find nearby businesses.

Microsoft built Bing Maps using satellite images, but the service also uses contributed photos for landmarks within a city or area. Those local photos can be rendered in three dimensions if users turn on Microsoft Photosynth technology, which is integrated with Bing Maps.

In addition to Bing Maps, Microsoft unveiled a new Bing search for mobile devices on Wednesday. Mobile searches can be conducted using voice commands, freeing users from having to type with small keyboards.

Finally, Microsoft introduced a new "Bing Bar" add-on for Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers. Bing Bar will suggest searches as users type their queries. It also has an alert function that can be used to track breaking news. When users search for products, the Bing Bar will flag Microsoft "Cashback" deals.

To create the Bing Maps technology, Microsoft relied on the combined expertise of "Microsoft Research, Live Labs and the core maps team," said Satya Nadella, Microsoft's senior vice president for online services, in a blog post.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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