Microsoft to shut down Bing 411 service June 1st

Very soon after Microsoft launched its Bing Internet search division in 2009, it launched a phone-based business search service as well. Bing 411 let people call a number (either 1-800-BING-411 or 1-800-CALL-411) to use their voice to search for businesses via Microsoft's TellMe technologies. In the original announcement nearly three years ago, Microsoft described the many other features of Bing 411:

Call Bing 411 to find a business, then connect to it or get an SMS with a link to a map (which you can also send to a friend). Bing 411 even includes star ratings of businesses based on reviews by other consumers. You can get traffic-influenced driving directions, and for movie theaters, you can get show times and even buy tickets.

This week, users that call both of those phone numbers are now being told, via an automated message, the Bing 411 service will shut down on June 1st. The message directs users to go to the Bing website on their PCs and mobile devices after that date to get their business information.

There is no word why Microsoft is closing down those numbers. However, the division of the company which Bing is a part of continues to lose money and its likely that this decision is a cost-cutting move. Also, Microsoft announced a deal in February with software company 24/7 Inc. that included the transfer of 400 people in Microsoft's TellMe division over to 24/7 Inc.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

AT&T CEO: My "only regret" was offering unlimited data

Next Story

Cancelled Star Wars Battlefront 3 details revealed

16 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

MS has been working on voice recognition for about a couple of decades now. I think the team is (or was) called Natural Language. A few years back MS acquired Tellme, which is what powered Bing 411 (previously known as Live Search 411).

My best guess: what Bing 411 provided for MS was a large sample of various languages and dialects and speech patterns and tonal qualities. This will help with creating software that can identify you by voice, know your current location, understand your current emotional state (for example, it would know if you are under duress), execute tasks, anticipate needs or ideas and act accordingly...the applicable possibilities are vast. And I suppose they're finished gathering data for improving their algorithms.

Goes to figure - just when I start to take a like to something, they take it way. I was just telling others about this service at work.

I'd have to imagine this was just a test bed for tell me. Data gathering, testing, metrics etc. It's why they barely ever talked about it let alone advertised.

Service served its purpose. I doubt they are getting anything useful out of it now that they have windows phone and lync to pull metric data from.

MS had no choice but to shutter this since Google has already shuttered their virtually identical service called GOOG-411 (or whatever it was called). MS follows Google almost in lockstep sometimes, it's scary.

There is no word why Microsoft is closing down those numbers. However, the division of the company which Bing is a part of continues to lose money and its likely that this decision is a cost-cutting move. Also, Microsoft announced a deal in February with software company 24/7 Inc. that included the transfer of 400 people in Microsoft's TellMe division over to 24/7 Inc.

Or it could just be that smartphones are getting more and more popular? I can get all of the info 411 gives me in less time, gps, book tickets etc all from my phone.

So why keep putting money into a service that will become obsolete in a short time?

Gerowen said,
I didn't even know this existed, maybe if they'd advertised it, it would have gotten some use and attention.

I think that's Microsoft's biggest problem, they suck at advertising, especially outside of the USA

Enron said,
I didn't even know about it.

I found out about it when 800-GOOG-411 was shut down. I used both services less than 10 times in years - they were super convenient when I did use them though.