How Microsoft plans to beat Google with Bing

It's been an expensive battle, but Microsoft is moving beyond features new tricks to challenge the search king

Bing is a big money-loser for Microsoft, shedding billions of dollars per year, but the company is far from giving up on beating Google in the search engine wars.

In a New York Times feature published over the weekend, Microsoft laid out its long-term plans for Bing and hints at new features to come. (The article follows an earlier Times opinion piece suggesting that Microsoft should abandon Bing entirely.)

Here's an overview of how Bing plans to take on Google in the years ahead:

Rich Web Apps

Expect Web apps based on HTML5 to play a big role in Bing's future. Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's online services division, describes typing a phrase like "dinner for two on Friday and movie after," and having Bing draw on your personal data -- location, movie and film preferences and so on -- to deliver results.

The app would then go a step further by starting a dialog with the user, listing what's available and asking where the user would like to eat and when. It's an extension of Bing's tendency to display information directly on its search results page, but drawing on more personal data to deliver custom results.

A Desktop App (and Beyond)

Microsoft is working on software, still in the concept stage, called Bing DeskBar. Like Google's existing Google Desktop software, the DeskBar would incorporate local files and Web searches, but it'll also have a "people" category to search e-mails and messages from Facebook and Twitter.

Information will be sorted by "what's most recent, relevant and frequent