So in the spirit of Microsoft's new internal structure and the "one Microsoft" theory, the company has decided to rebrand Bing to reflect the fact that it is now integrated into Excel, Word, and Xbox.
The main changes include a new logo and some adjustments to how Bing works. The interface has been tweaked to be faster, "cleaner," and nicer to look at. Microsoft has also taken two features it added last year, Snapshot and Sidebar, and turned them into a search query support panel of sorts--when you search for a term the Bing interface now provides you with this extra contextual information in one place.
For example, the company says if you search for something like "Highway 1," Bing will know that it should show you some map data, the specifics of the route along Highway 1, places along the way, and relevant social results like photos, tweets, or check-ins.
The biggest tweak, though, is called Page Zero. It gives users search data "before they even see the first results page." The interface spots what you're doing as you type and displays key results even as you're entering the search phrases. For example, typing in "Katy Perry" will bring up an option to quickly see images, and key data on Perry. Alongside this is the new "pole position" result, a pane that pops up with some pre-populated and more detailed search results.
This probably sounds familiar. Google, Bing's greatest rival, has been delivering "instant"-type search results like this for some time now as it moves toward being able to deliver search results to you without delay. Microsoft is playing catch-up here, but Bing is a great product and anything that stands up against the monolithic and thoroughly not "evil" Google is a great thing.
[Image via Flickr user: davidd]