Microsoft has been struggling with its search engine named Bing. Microsoft’s division that powers Bing has been a loss maker so far and ended up with an operating loss of $479 million during the quarter ending March compared with $776 million loss in the same period last year. Even with aggressive marketing and continuous rollout of innovative features, Bing has not been able to seriously challenge Google which has dominated the search market for so many years now. Bing had a market share of 15.3 percent in March 2012 compared with 66 percent market share of Google. Microsoft is now in partnership deal with Yahoo and Bing powers Yahoo search results. The combined market share of Bing and Yahoo stands at 29 percent.
In its quest to come up with new features to challenge Google, Microsoft has redesigned Bing with focus on social search. This is the biggest change since the launch of Bing three years ago. Bing search results will be shown in three columns now. One column will show the traditional web results. The second column has been named as ‘snapshot’ by Microsoft and will show additional information to enrich certain types of search queries response. As an example, someone looking for a movie name would be able to find additional information like movie trailers and links for buying online tickets to the same movie. This value added information will be shown in the second column.
Of even more significance is the third column of the search page of Bing. This third column will show results from social networks of the searcher like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Microsoft has also said that eventually it will also showcase results from LinkedIn. Bing will allow searchers to use Bing to post into Facebook to ask for recommendations on a particular search. Bing is being non intrusive here by showing social results in a separate pane. Google came in for hard criticism when it started to give preference to its social results from Google+ recently. All the search engines have been thinking of ways to effectively plug in social search results in the main search results page. This three column strategy of Bing is in line with Google’s premise that users want social results along with the algorithmic results of the search engines. However, the challenge for Google has been to avoid irrelevant social search results from showing up. The same issue applies to Bing as well. There is no doubt that users want social results but they also want quality results at the same time. Bing will be rolling out these changes over the next few days for all users, and time will tell if Bing can make any significant dent in Google’s dominance with this massive change.