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Microsoft Bing recently announced a huge overhaul to its user interface, which will see social media feeds from sites like Facebook and Twitter incorporated into a new social side bar on search results pages. The bar includes relevant posts from people you’re following using your social accounts (assuming you’re signed in at the time), as well as suggestions from experts that Bing thinks could answer your question.
All of this may seem a bit similar to the way dear old Google includes links shared by people you’re following on Google+ in its results — but Bing is incorporating more than one social network, and limiting its influence to a dedicated right-hand column, not shoving links in-between the main search results. The social sidebar will include results from sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, LinkedIn, Quora and Foursquare.
The three column update is being rolled out gradually and is designed to make searching easier and faster, as you’ll get the standard search results as well as the social media information on one page, making it more likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for, first time. The redesigned pages will also include something they are calling ‘snapshot’ in the middle column: essentially an area where Bing compiles the most relevant contextual information to answer your query (like maps, directions, reviews, photos, prices and booking information) from sites like Yelp, OpenTable and FanSnap.
“We’re evolving search in a way that recognizes new user paradigms like the growth of the social graph, and will empower people with the broad knowledge of the Web alongside the help of their friends,” explained Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division.
The redesign hopes to capitalise on the fact that people are more likely to take advice from friends and family — so incorporating their opinions into search results should, theoretically, make them more accurate.