Microsoft promises 'open' Bing strategy
Silverlight sneaks in
The only catch with the Silverlight diet is that this is a Microsoft-only technology. Also, you'll need Microsoft's Visual Studio or Expression to do most of your coding and debugging or design. While there is an Eclipse-based Silverlight project, Eclipse4SL, the question is how deep integration goes with Visual Studio and Expression design suite.
Microsoft played up the fact that Silverlight isn't restricted to just running in Internet Explorer and that it's built on and consumes REST, ATOM and SOAP, and VC1 and H.264 for media content. But that comes in addition to some very Microsoft-specific technologies, such as LINQ and Windows Presentation Foundation that do tie Siverlight into Windows and .NET.
Microsoft defended its use of Silverlight, saying it would be impossible to get the same level of "richness" with AJAX - Google's preferred option and also that of the Web 2.0 in crowd. It picked Silverlight in the spirit of empowerment, not in the spirit of trying to lock a stack in, one of the team leading the spatial mapping work told The Reg.
On Entity Cards and Task Pages, meanwhile, Microsoft is building these itself for now but Nadella made it sound like it's open to third parties helping. Currently, third parties are simply providing the data the cards and pages pull in. Nadella said Microsoft's goal is to take what it called "proprietary" content and information that's indexable or crawlable and use it in a query stream.
How Microsoft opens up the building of cards and pages to outsiders is difficult to tell. Until then, it sounds like Microsoft will rely on deals with content partners to open up their repositories and supply the information needed to make the whole idea work.
Nadella noted, however, that the goal is not to simply get content deemed "non Google" to achieve differentiation. He also wouldn't comment on reports Microsoft might pay for News International content the news giant's ripped from Google.
Ultimately, the cards and pages see Bing playing the role of content aggregator. Microsoft is filtering its own search results, looking for commonly searched topics and clusters of searches to group together information considered relevant. Natella told The Reg: "There are garaged information sources, the problem in the past is how do you go from query to aggregated source.
"If you have enough annotations around a query in terms of your understanding you can do a better job of ranking even structured information. We've redefined our ranking problem to include a lot of structured information and optimized that - we will keep at it."
According to Nadella, Microsoft's growing Bing annotations infrastructure is designed to automate the presentation of structured results. "We've built an infrastructure for curating large amounts of structured data - we have significant systems investment as opposed to human creation," he told press earlier.
"That said there needs to be a continuous set of technology advances so bad data doesn't come across so freshness isn't an issue...this notion of structured data is an entirely new area were we are making investments in automating it." ®