Microsoft rolled out a completely revamped version of its Bing search engine today that promises to provide better and more relevant results from a wider array of sources than Google. And without being nearly as annoying.
Bing has been re-organised with a stronger focus on task completion rather than simply information retrieval. It does this through a new three-panel design. First, the web page itself has been completely overhauled. It now features a cleaner UI that reads more easily with less visual garbage. The search algorithm itself has also been improved to provide more relevant results.
Second, Bing now includes a "Snapshots" panel -- additional, related information to a search query that pops out when you hover over a result. So if you are looking for a good Italian restaurant in your city, Bing will display maps, reviews, images, videos, user reviews and other data directly related to the restaurant you're looking at.
Third, Bing also heavily aggregates social data into its new search results -- so much so that it integrates a "Social" pane that displays related results from your Facebook network. In addition to your Facebook friends' trusted opinions, the Bing social pane also will display a list of related "Influential" sources from Twitter and Google+. Microsoft developers plan to add Skype, LinkedIn and Foursquare. What's more, this pane will allow you to communicate directly with other users through the Bing page.
The new Bing will be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks, so we'll have wait to see if it can take a bite out of Google's overwhelming dominance.