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Microsoft 'personalizes' Bing search results

Google wannabe mines your location and history

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Microsoft is now "personalizing" searches on Bing, tailoring results to the user's particular location and search history.

Previously, according to a blog post from Microsoft, the company has run limited tests involving personalized Bing results, but this is the first time it has rolled out personalized results to everyone on the search engine.

Google has long personalized results. In March of last year, the company said it was personalizing one in five searches, tweaking results according to a user's location, web history, and online contacts (contacts are gathered through non-search Google services, such as Gmail). Microsoft is not yet personalizing based on contacts, but it appears the company is at least experimenting with such results.

"In real life, you take into account many things when making a decision: for example, where you are, what time it is, and what your friends think. We asked - shouldn’t your search engine do the same thing?" the company's blog post reads.

At the moment, Microsoft is solely personalizing based on location and web history. If you're in Seattle and you search for "pizza", Bing will show you pizza results specific to Seattle. And if you key what is on the surface an ambiguous query, the search engine may use your web history to dissect it. If you key in "ACS"," for instance, it may use your previous searches to determine whether you mean the "American Cancer Society" or the "American Chemical Society".

"Suppose...the chemistry fan selects American Chemical Society. Our research shows that users commonly re-issue such navigational queries and the intent of that user rarely changes. This new personal search feature uses this human behavior as its core premise – if Bing thinks a user is trying to 're-find' a site, the relevant result is promoted to the top position on the page."

Microsoft personalizes results even if you're not signed into Bing, a company spokeswoman tells The Register. Google has been personalizing searches for signed-out users since December 2009, and it signed out personalization dates back well before then. ®

Update: This story was updated after Microsoft responded to our query about whether it was personalizing searches even when users are not signed in.

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