Microsoft picks Bing as name for new search engine

Ballmer reveals next iteration of Live Search at the D7 conference

Microsoft has picked Bing as the branding for its new search engine, putting to rest months of speculation of what the next iteration of Live Search would be called.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed Bing at the D7 conference in California Thursday; the company said it will roll out the product over the next several days until it is fully available to everyone on Wednesday.

Bing and Kumo were the names the company was considering for the new search engine, but in recent days speculation grew that Bing was the front-runner. Microsoft confirmed earlier this year it was testing a search engine called Kumo, a Japanese word that can mean "cloud," internally, but the company never confirmed the official name for its new engine.

Highlights from an interview with Ballmer at D7 are posted on the conference Web site. Microsoft also demonstrated the new search engine at the conference.

Microsoft said it has designed Bing as a "decision engine" to help people search the Web more intelligently and to simplify everyday tasks such as getting directions, and said the tool is aimed at giving people more ways to organize search results to their preferences.

For example, Bing includes a set of navigation and search tools called an Explore Pane on the left side of the page that offers a feature called Web Groups, which organizes search results not only in the pane but also in the actual results generated on the page.

Microsoft also has added Related Searches and Quick Tabs features, which provide a table of contents for different categories of search results.

Bing also helps people find what the engine considers the most relevant results by highlighting them in various ways, according to Microsoft. A feature called Best Match surfaces what the engine considers the best result for a search query and calls it out for the user. Another feature called Deep Links gives people more insight into what resources a site offers.

Bing also offers what is called Quick Preview, which gives a brief preview of search results in a box that appears when someone mouses over the search results link. The preview gives a snapshot of the information the link provides so people can decide whether they want to click on it.

Bing also includes one-click access to information through an Instant Answers feature. Microsoft said it designed this to help users find information quickly within the body of a search page so they do not have to use additional clicks to get what they are looking for.

Microsoft has redesigned its search engine in the hopes of closing the gap with Google, which has the lion's share of the search queries. It's also been reported that the company is spending US$80 million to $100 million to promote Bing. Google currently has about 80 percent share of all online searches to Microsoft's 6 percent, according to most analysts, who have said that it will take revolutionary features for people to switch from Google to another search engine.

People can find out more about Bing and give it a test run online.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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