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Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, has received a massive endorsement from Facebook, which could potentially see Bing becoming a credible rival to Google, the company that has dominated the search category for so long.
Early on Wednesday at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley HQ, management teams from Facebook and Microsoft gathered to address the media on new developments and partnerships between them.
In a nutshell, it was announced that the social context of Facebook’s information database will be brought into a Bing search. What does this mean? Essentially, the things, places and experiences that your friends have “liked”, using Facebook’s social graph will receive priority treatment in a related Bing search. Your Facebook friends and their opinions could make all the difference between two neutral search queries.
According to tech-blog Mashable, “The example Microsoft gives is if you are searching for San Francisco steak houses and one of your friends liked Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco, that would appear as a result along with the name of your friend”.
The Facebook team went to great lengths to explain that this will not have an impact on the security of your issues. You can simply choose to turn off Instant Personalisation, which will neutralise all your data.
Users will be notified when searches are returning data that their Facebook friends have liked. These results will initially appear in an isolated area, and users can choose to turn off these results if they do not appeal.
Techcrunch reports that “..along with adding Facebook likes into search results, Bing is also using Facebook data to do better people search. When you start looking for a person, Bing will analyze the people you know and the people they know through Facebook and return those who are most closely linked to you socially. Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi says that 4 percent of searches are people search, but results are only satisfying 20 percent of the time. He hopes Facebook can improve on that.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained: “Four percent of Bing’s queries are about finding people — people searches. If you’re looking for your friend Brian Lee, rather than the hockey player, Bing can help. It now has a ‘People on Facebook’ module that will show off which Brian Lee is most relevant to you. It uses similar networks and mutual friends to figure out who to display in people searches.”
There seemed to be much goodwill and camaraderie between the two companies, and this partnership could make significant inroads into the way that search is conducted and delivered over the web.
It also marks another step on what is turning into a renaissance week for Microsoft after the successful launch of the Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is seeking to overcome years of under-performance and deliver products that people actually care about and want to use.
With Facebook on its side, the chances of that happening just got a lot better.