Bing: Microsoft's answer to Google Now and Apple's Siri

Google Now and Siri are impressive products. Arguably Siri is a little bit more obnoxious than useful, but let’s not discount the technological miracle that it is, just based on its snarky tone. But where is Microsoft’s answer to these awesome advances in computing?

Some have argued that TellMe, the service found on Windows Phone and a few other Microsoft products is the company’s way forward. But TellMe has been replaced by Bing, and Bing itself is evolving to become Microsoft’s secret weapon.

In an interview with PCWorld, Stefan Weitz, director of Bing Search explained how the company is positioning itself to offer both Apple and Google a run for their money when it comes to personal digital assistance.

Weitz explained something we’ve all been seeing: that Bing has evolved from a “simple” search engine to Microsoft’s backbone when it comes to big data. And behind the public face of Bing lies the Satori engine. This is where the company compiles all the data that it gathers through its services and partners. The company’s stated goal is to make Satori into “the world’s largest repository of knowledge”.

Where does Satori get its data from? Well you might not know it but every time you use Foursquare, Linkedin, Facebook, or any other of Microsoft’s partners’ services, not to mention the company’s services like Bing, Skydrive and Office, Microsoft gets to collect a little bit of data about you. And it’s this vast array of data from partner networks that Microsoft hopes will give them an edge above Siri and Google Now.

So how does all of this turn up in the real world?  Weitz says that this program will be properly rolled out in the next couple of years but we’re already seeing glimpses of it: in Windows Phone with Local Scout, voice commands and so on, in Windows 8.1 with the expanded search capabilities, in Office where you can use live data from Bing, on the Xbox and the Xbox Store, for example.

While right now these may seem like modest enhancements, the search and assistive capabilities of Bing will reach maturity soon enough. And then, there’ll be a pervasive sub-service, across all of Microsoft’s other services, that will know you personally and will always be ready to help you with information in whatever context you need. Or at least, that’s Microsoft’s hope.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out over time and if Microsoft will actually be capable of bringing a cohesive service to its users without privacy issues and up to par with the competition. Right now it looks like a very tough challenge, but if it’s one thing we’ve learned about Microsoft in the last two years, it’s that they’re not afraid to take chances.

Source: PCWorld | Xbox Bing image via ForeverGeek

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