After several months in the planning, Microsoft has finally taken the covers off its new web search engine, Bing. Set to go live in under a week, Bing is not just a re branding of Microsoft's previous search site Live Search but is a major update introducing new features and a new interface, touted as a "decision engine".
Having been in internal testing for a while under the codename of Kumo, Bing was unveiled today - as expected - at the All Things Digital D7 conference by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Bing is expected to start rolling out in the coming days with worldwide availability expected by June 3.
According to Microsoft, Bing will initially have four main search verticals: shopping around for products (with reviews and price comparisons to help you make your decision), travel planning (using technology from their acquisition of Farecast), researching health conditions (possibly linked to Microsoft HealthVault), and local business search (with integrated reviews and maps).
You may be wondering where such a strange name came from. Yusuf Mehdi, the Senior Vice President of the Online Audience Business Group who demoed Bing on stage at D7 today, reveals "We needed a brand that was as fresh and new [...] A name that was memorable, short, easy to spell, and that would function well as a URL around the world [...] the name needed to clearly communicate that this is something new, to invite you to come back, to re-introduce you to our new and improved service and encourage you to give it a try."
Along with the relaunch, the Virtual Earth mapping platform will now be known as Bing Maps for Enterprise, the advanced travel search features made available from Microsoft's acquisition of Farecast will be fully integrated as Bing Travel, and the Live Search cashback program will also be branded to Bing Cashback.
Will Bing be able to save Microsoft's ever-dwindling search share? The product will have to seriously impress consumers and become an excellent brand if it is going to reach anywhere near Google's search market and many believe that Bing could be aimed more at finally removing Yahoo! search from the competition. An advertising campaign for Bing, costing Microsoft up to $100 million, is expected soon as they try - yet again - to make larger inroads into the world of internet search.
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