Bing gets smarter with Cortana-like conversation capabilities

One of the defining aspects of Cortana is the ability to interact with the personal digital assistant in a way that feels natural. To build on this type of interaction, Bing has announced an update to its service today that brings a similar level of functionality to the search service.

What the Bing team has announced today is a text-based application for searches that has undertones of Cortana's functionality. For example, if you search "who is the President?" and your next search is "who is his wife?", Bing will know that you are looking for Michelle Obama based on your prior search. The idea is that you can ask questions to Bing in the same way that you would during a conversation where prior context is key to understanding the task that you are trying to accomplish.

It's small features like this that has allowed Bing to make small gains against Google, and with their constant roll-out of improvements, it would make sense that they will keep chipping away from Google's massive lead in the search market. 

This update is one of many that will make its way into Bing, and Microsoft said that the road to be able to introduce this type of feature has been a long journey, but the labor is now starting to create the fruit that we see today. Expect to see more features like this in the near future as Bing works to differentiate itself from Google by finding new ways to make searching feel more natural.

Source: Microsoft

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32 Comments

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I just went to Bing and searched for those two questions, and it didn't work. Bing did manage to tell me what the capital of the UK was, but it could not then answer my follow-up enquiry, "How do I get there?"

I experienced the same thing. I was able to ask "How big is it?" and "what is its population?" (sic), and "when was it established?" even, but whether I tried "what are directions to there?" or simply "directions to it", I couldn't get that to work.

I guess it only works with text data type stuff, like names, numbers, etc.

Ideas Man said,
It couldn't make the connection between Australia's capital and its most populous state, that's a shame.

I agree 100%. I feel sorry for you. People always dump on Australia. There are still some morons who'll tell you that Australia was founded by English criminals. This is totally wrong, of course. No. Australia was founded by the slow English criminals who got caught.

G'day.

This is pretty neat and it'll take the multi-level searches in Cortana even further. Exciting times and glad to see the rapid updates across all their products now :D

j2006 said,
*Smacks my head at how silly this comment is*

How? Bing improves. Google improves. But Google is better and therefore I'd be surprised if it doesn't continue to be so.

Elliot B. said,

How? Bing improves. Google improves. But Google is better and therefore I'd be surprised if it doesn't continue to be so.

How is Google better?? As shown by the the algorithm that MS did for Bing to predict the world cup just 1 wrong from bring 100% accurate. Google couldn't do it and they made a crap excuse. To me it shows that MS is serious and it has already surpassed Google in stone areas.

duk3togo said,

How is Google better?? As shown by the the algorithm that MS did for Bing to predict the world cup just 1 wrong from bring 100% accurate. Google couldn't do it and they made a crap excuse. To me it shows that MS is serious and it has already surpassed Google in stone areas.

Google's results are almost always better.

Elliot B. said,

Google's results are almost always better.

When Bing was pretty new, I used google and Bing alternately, and my experience was that both where pretty equal in the quality of the results.

But at some point in time, google was giving me better results almost everytime, and then I pretty much stopped using Bing.

duk3togo said,

How is Google better?? As shown by the the algorithm that MS did for Bing to predict the world cup just 1 wrong from bring 100% accurate. Google couldn't do it and they made a crap excuse. To me it shows that MS is serious and it has already surpassed Google in stone areas.

I believe the actual accuracy was around 63% when you factor in the group stages, but I guess that result isn't as glamorous.

Hey Elliot, can you give a couple of examples? I don't doubt your experience, I just haven't seen anyone give specific examples when they say Google is better...

Luc2k said,

I believe the actual accuracy was around 63% when you factor in the group stages, but I guess that result isn't as glamorous.

I think it was Bing for all games and Cortana for the Groupstages

-adrian- said,

I think it was Bing for all games and Cortana for the Groupstages

Isn't Cortana powered by Bing? If not, what else?

My experience has been opposite. Google used to be consistently better than Bing for me, but recently, every time I compare, they give almost identical results. I much prefer Bing's layout and how it does image and video searching. Google does still have some cool unique features, but I start with Bing now and drop to Google if I need those.

Elliot B. said,

How? Bing improves. Google improves. But Google is better and therefore I'd be surprised if it doesn't continue to be so.

Greetings from China. What is this Google you guys always talk about? Is it a dog?

-adrian- said,

So you imply Microsoft is not trying to catch up on any frontline at the moment

I agree 100%. I mean Microsoft should focus on the really important issues - like making their Xbox better than Apple's Xbox or Google's Xbox.