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-organized with a stronger focus on task completion rather than simply information retrieval. It does this through a new three0panel design. First, the webpage itself has been completely overhauled. It now features a a cleaner UI that reads more easily with less visual garbage. The search algorithm 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 town, Bing will display maps, reviews, images, videos, user reviews and other data directly related to the restaurant you're looking at.
Third, Bing now heavily aggregagates social data into its search results—so much so that it integrates a third, "Social" pane that displays related results from your Facebook network. In addition to your FB 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.
Bing's already had social partnerships in place—it first tied up with Facebook about a year and a half ago—but this overhaul actual seems to bear the fruit of that arrangement. The new Bing looks as though it manages to be social without degrading search results. Something Google, arguably, hasn't quite mastered yet.
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.