October has been a huge month for Microsoft, and it's going to be interesting to see how the company's new products and implementations inspire Bing use.
Is Bing poised to make a bigger dent in Google's share of the search market? Do you intend to use Bing with Microsoft's new products? Do you intend to use Microsoft's new products at all? Let us know in the comments.
Last Friday, Microsoft launched Windows 8 into the wild. I won't get into all the bells and whistles of that here. Read this, and determine if you think it's worth the upgrade.
One thing is for certain though. There are still a lot of Windows users out there, and there are many will make the upgrade simply because it's the latest version, and others will simply purchase devices that come with the operating system installed. This is a chance for Bing to thrust itself upon users in a flashy new way. Bing resides on the Windows 8 Start menu by default. Sure you can change it, but how many people are that passionate about the search engine they use, and how many simply won't bother to use Google instead?
Bing showed off its Windows 8 apps the other day. Here's a look:
There is a standard Bing app for web search and image search, a Travel app, a Weather app, a News app, a Finance app and a Sports app. Some Facebook users (of which there are 1.01 billion), might be exposed to Bing's social features for the first time, and find that appealing. They may like seeing their friends as they're searching, and stick with BIng.
“Searching with the Bing app is fast and fluid, whether you use a touch device to tap and swipe or type and click with a keyboard and mouse,” says Brian MacDonald, Corporate Vice President, Online Service Division for Microsoft. “Finger-friendly results and images are front and center letting you quickly find what you’re looking for, so you can search less and do more. You can still rely on the same great Bing web experience in Internet Explorer 10, but we’ve optimized the Bing app to shine on Windows 8.”
“The Maps app makes it easy to find the places you’re looking for and helps you get there faster,” adds MacDonald. “Quickly pinpoint locations, get directions, see traffic conditions and more— all designed to be easily navigable with touch.”
The Weather app gives you a preview of the current weather and the hourly, daily, and 10-day forecasts. For the Finance, News, Travel and Sports apps (collectively referred to as the Bing media apps), Bing has partnered with brands like ABC, AP, Bloomberg, CNBC, Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, Reuters and complete daily editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Microsoft refers to the experience as a built-in newsstand. The Sports app offers headlines, live scores, schedules, standings, stats, etc., and lets you personalize it based on the teams you care about.
That's a lot of online content that Bing can quickly give users, who may not have gotten Google's memo about its Windows 8 apps:
So you've got Windows 8, and then there's Windows Phone 8, which Microsoft revealed this week. Here's all the features (and here's what Microsoft thinks about the future of smartphones). Bing has, of course, been showing some Windows 8-related improvements.
It comes with a feature called "For You," which offeres personalized recommendations for deals, restaurants, music, videos, etc. based on a person's location, previous searches and recommendations from Facebook friends.
"Whether you’re looking for the best brunch or live music in your area, it's all a tap away," the company explains. "Simply pick a result and you’ll see everything you need to know – where it's located, how to get there, who to call, when it's open, the website, and even ratings and reviews. Local Scout includes eat+drink, see+do, shop, local deals and the new for you experience."
Bing Explore is a feature that lets you swipe the Bing home page across to see content that it has deemed relevant to you, including trending stories, local deals, etc.
The lock screen image on Windows Phone 8 automatically retrieves the image of the day from the BIng home page, so this will provide a constant reminder that you're a Bing user.
Bing Music on Windows 8 has a larger catalogue, and Microsoft says it's easier to find out what song is playing by letting your phone "listen" to music. The Shazam-like feature will show you the name, artist and album, as well as where to buy it or hear it.
Bing search results will return Windows Phone Store apps that are relevant to searching. "For example, when you search for movie times, Bing will show you several of the top movie apps," Bing says. "Bing also powers search for both apps and games in the Store. This system has also been rolled out to Windows Phone 7.x devices."
Finally, with Bing Vision, you can use your phone's camera to look up product info by bringing the object into view. Bing recognizes text and presents the option to select words for a search and return product results if there is a bar code. It can also read UPC codes, QR codes and Microsoft Tag, and cover art for CDs, DVDs and video games. There is a also a translation feature which you can use to translate text you come across while traveling.
Then there's Xbox, which could be one of the greatest assets Microsoft has in terms of having an edge over Google. Google does not have a competitor to Xbox. Xbox 360 sales recently surpassed 70 million units, and we're just getting into the holiday season this year.
Last week, Microsoft announced the ability to search the web from Xbox via Internet Explorer. That is potentially another huge way to get people doing more Bing searches.
Bing first came to Xbox last year, but was missing the key web search feature. The new update means people can use Bing from the Xbox just like they can from the desktop. Sure Google has Google TV as a living room weapon, but come on. We're talking about Xbox here. Microsoft said in its announcement:
"Not only have the overall voice recognition capabilities and accuracy of Bing on Xbox been improved, but we’ve also added the following features to help refine your searches even further. Search the Web from Your TV: With the addition of “Internet Explorer,” you can now search across the web, as well as the content on your Xbox, to find the most relevant results. Bing on Xbox also searches YouTube for web original video. So, if you’re searching for a film with Jason Statham, you not only get results for his movies from within Xbox, but you can also view related web content within the same search."
Bing also provides the search for the new Xbox Music service, and Microsoft has added the ability to search movies by genre.
On top of all of that, they’ve expanded Bing on Xbox to more countries, including: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, France, Canada (FR), Ireland, Japan, Austria and Switzerland (FR and German).
Now, I'm not saying all of this is going to come together and instantly put Micosoft ahead of Google in search. That's just silly. However, I do believe the company is making some rather important moves that could lead to an uptick in its market share, and perhaps make Bing more relevant than it has been since it launched.
Microsoft has hardly toned down the marketing since it launched the search engine with a huge advertising budget. Now people know what Bing is, and Microsoft is putting it out there more than ever. Microsoft also has some major new products with its Windows 8 and WIndows Phone 8 operating systems, which will not hurt Bing's chances of picking up some new users, even if Google is still a click (or a tap) away.
Of course people have to buy the devices (like the new Surface) for this Bing strategy to even try to come together, but that includes Windows PCs, and of course Xboxes. Let's put it this way: none of this is likely to make Bing lose users.
Also, remember this: Bing doesn't have to keep people from using Google all the time to get them using Bing more.
What do you think? Is Bing on the verge of taking a bigger piece of the search market? Let us know what you think.