The next stage in the search engine wars has arrived: Microsoft is boosting its Bing system with a similar "instant results" feature to Google's, bringing a pseudo-real time feel to search that aims to speed up the process significantly.
Google introduced "instant" search feedback recently to increase the speed and efficiency of search—the system pops up a suggested list of search query matches as you're actually typing, just in case the results meet your needs before you go through the tedious business of typing out a complete search string. Now Microsoft, which is busy expanding Bing's search engine into a very serious rival for Google, is trying something very similar.
Bing's instant search is actually part of a bigger make-over for Bing that'll maximize its use of HTML5 "next gen" browser technology, timed to correspond with the upcoming launch of Internet Explorer 9—Microsoft's next iteration of its browser, and one that tries to embrace HTML5 fully for the first time, playing catchup to Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari browser.
New Bing will include the instant search feature, smoother animations, better interaction with search history, pop-over windows to make in-site navigation easier, and moving photos and slideshows for certain types of search query results—these last give you more info about a search query finding directly inside Bing, meaning it's simpler to determine if the match actually satisfies your needs without requiring you to surf there directly.
What's Microsoft hoping to do here, though? While embracing HTML5 is a welcome move for a firm that, in the past, has deliberately shunned, cloned or bolted proprietary code into otherwise open-source Net protocols, some of the enhancements to Bing sound like MS is merely catching up to Google, rather than attempting to surpass it. After all, partnering with Kayak to boost travel searches, and Groupon and others to include daily coupon savings in searches is not particularly innovative. Fascinatingly, MS could've beaten Google to "instant" results over a year ago, but seemed to have ignored the opportunity, highlighting the fact it's now including it merely to more closely follow Google's model. Where's Bing's Google-killing feature?
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