If you’ve been looking for a reason to try Bing search lately, Microsoft’s hoping a fresh design and some new features will provide the motivation.
In a blog post titled “The Next Phase,” Microsoft describes how Bing will change in the coming weeks and months:
With this release we’ve created a modern Bing.com experience – one that is faster, cleaner and more visually appealing. We believe that search can be beautiful as well as functional and efficient. With that as our goal, we evaluated fonts, spacing, color, visual scan patterns, the search box and even the underlying code.
Basically, the design hews closer to the “Metro” design language of other Microsoft products such as Windows 8, with liberal use of the Segoe font and more rectangular shapes. To clean things up a bit, Microsoft will eliminate the third sidebar, which contained search results from your social networks, and move those results into the second “Snapshot” sidebar. Snapshot is similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph, serving up information directly on key topics culled from sources like Wikipedia; now it’ll have social network results built in. Bing will also get a new logo to go along with the redesign.
But it’s not just about looks. Microsoft is adding new features such as “Page Zero,” which shows facts and links for certain search terms as you type. Another feature called Pole Position gives top billing to certain types of information when Bing is confident about what you’re looking for. (Think weather forecasts or celebrity images.)
None of the changes look like major departures from what Google has done with Knowledge Graph and Instant Search, but at least Bing won’t look like a jarring shift anymore if you’ve come to rely on these features from Google.
Also, Microsoft says it is going to keep tweaking the design at a fast pace, thanks to a rewrite of Bing’s underlying code. Indeed, the most interesting thing from Microsoft’s blog post is a concept image of “how our new modern design could evolve in the future.” It shows how direct information, social results and formatted search sections meld together into something that barely resembles the “10 blue links” we all grew up with: