Microsoft says it “went back to the drawing board” with its struggling search engine, tweaking its back end, adding new features and updating its visual look in hopes that it will better compete with Google.

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Microsoft has pushed out a preview of its new vision for Bing, updating the search engine with a visual style that matches Microsoft’s overall look and a handful of new features to make it more competitive with Google.

For Microsoft, Bing has been both a critical and commercial failure to day. The search engine has trailed its competitors in search accuracy and user base hasn’t competitively grown since its launch in 2009. Despite Microsoft’s heavy promotion of the search engine and integration into Windows 8, Bing hasn’t broken past twenty percent market share range since it launched in 2009. It gets approximately 17 percent of all searches, and has chipped away five percent of Google’s market share according to ComScore.

Looking at Bing’s new logo, it’s clear that it’s designed to blend into the rest of the Microsoft style. “Bing” is now in the Segoe font used in Microsoft’s corporate logo, and the yellow used is the same blend of yellow used in one of Microsoft’s four squares.

Scott Erickson, senior director, brand and creative at Microsoft, explained some of the changes to Mashable.

“We’ve even aligned our kerning [the space between letters] on the ‘i’ and ‘n’ to match the kerning on the Windows logo,” he said. “The descender on the ‘g’ was modified from the original Segoe font to curve upward ever so slightly which led to a more welcome and open feel. These details together with working with designers and engineers across Microsoft led to the collective brand architecture to create a new look that’s simple, streamlined and beautiful.”

Moving to Bing’s technical changes, Microsoft has introduced two new features: Page Zero and Pole Position.

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Page Zero seeks to offer the user information before their search query is complete. For example, if the user searches “John F. Kennedy conspiracy theories” by the time John F. Kennedy is entered, Bing will have generated a page with the late Kennedy’s picture, bio, and the option to preview the results of various combinations.

Lawrence Ripsher, Microsoft’s general manager of user experiences at Bing, writes in a blog post that Page Zero’s algorithm will use both the user’s previous searches and popular similar searches when generating. He gives the example of searching for information about Katy Perry.

“For example, if you type Katy Perry, we understand what you’re looking for before you’ve even searched and give you a quick glance of who she is and suggest other popular search tasks associated with the singer,” he writes.

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In circumstances where Bing has a “high-confidence” of the user’s query, Microsoft has developed a feature called Pole Position that will display the information requested near the top of the page. It’s not quite clear what constitutes a “high-confidence” query, but Microsoft gives the examples of looking up the weather forecast in a city.

A more subtle feature that Microsoft is also rolling out is called Snapshots. Microsoft says this will “provide people with all the supporting context they’ll need for any given query” through integration with the user’s social networks.

“For example, consider a search for “Highway 1″. Bing knows there are many possible things you might be looking for. Our new design displays both the factual data about this beautiful route (length, date, related places), and also the human perspective whether they be status updates, photos, tweets, check-in’s or expert opinions.”

These new features aren’t available in all markets yet, as Bing is previewing them to certain users in the United States then rolling them out worldwide later this year.

Source: Bing Blog