How Microsoft has turned Bing from a product into a feature

Many months ago, analysts were telling Microsoft that they should sell-off Bing (and Xbox) but Nadella refuted those suggestions and said that search is becoming an integral part of the company. Fast-forward to today and we can start to see this vision materialize if we look at how Microsoft is using the platform to power other services.

For years, every time we talked to folks at Bing, including last month, the team said that they wanted to take search 'outside the browser' and find more natural integration points for the service. For Microsoft, Bing is not just a search engine, but a fabric that the entire organization utilizes to power features.

For example, if you have ever used Cortana, Bing is woven deep into that product but this is only the first of many examples of how Bing is becoming more than a search engine. Microsoft recently brought Bing to Sway as well with a unique implementation that is designed to make finding content specific to your project a seamless process.

And then there is the latest example, the new 'Insights' feature that has made its way to Office Online that brings search and machine learning into the Office platform. This is, again, a microcosm of Bing that is limited in scope but serves a very specific set of requirements that turns Bing into a feature of Office Online.

And this is only the start, Microsoft is injecting these unique search scenarios into its applications wherever it can and we fully expect to see these content-aware Bing implementations in many different products in the future.

If you are thinking that this means that one day Bing.com will go away, that's not an accurate portrayal of what Microsoft is doing with the engine. In fact, Bing.com will continue to evolve to become comprehensive solutions for all types of searches but as unique scenarios surface, expect to see Bing used by Microsoft to expand feature sets of other applications too.

And that's exactly what makes Bing a core component of Microsoft's vision of being a productivity company; Bing is Microsoft's connection to the outside world. It allows applications to harvest the resources of Bing in a way that is unique to a wide variety of specific scenarios that would not be possible without a search engine.

After seeing how Microsoft is expanding Bing's role within products that the company offers, you can understand why they did not spin-off or sell the engine. As a feature within a product, Bing can streamline workflows in ways that would not be possible without an index of the web.

While Bing still has a long way to go to top Google in the raw search arena, the service is already paying dividends in other Microsoft applications. With the web and its content becoming more prolific each year, it makes sense for Microsoft to have its own index of the Internet for use in its core products.

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