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Redmond revamp: Bing gets social bling

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Microsoft is taking yet-another swipe at Google, unveiling a revamped Bing that Redmond says will do a better job of separating social search from the main body of results.

The search challenger says its integration with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora will let it pull the most relevant links from social networks in response to a user’s search, but it will separate social results into a sidebar, part of a three-pane presentation of search results.

That social integration is, Redmond hopes, its secret weapon against Google, which lacks Microsoft’s deep access into social networks’ operations. For example, back in 2009 the Chocolate Factory declined to renew a licensing agreement with Twitter, something that Microsoft has maintained.

The “new Bing” is in test now at http://www.bing.com/new and is available by registration.

The leftmost pane will carry the “main” search results; a centre pane, to be called “Snapshot”, will be used to complete tasks such as turning a search result into directions. The social sidebar will fill the right-hand pane.

As well as presenting social results, the sidebar will feature “Ask Friends” (to post queries to Facebook friends); “Friends Who Might Know” (associating your search with the interests of known Facebook friends); “People Who Know” (results from Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, LinkedIn, Google+ and Blogger); and an activity feed.

In other words, the sidebar is designed to let users interact with their social networks without leaving Bing.

The Snapshot pane takes a similar approach, integrating with social search operators like Yelp, Open Table and Fansnap. ®

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