Bing Pulse, the real-time viewer polling and feedback tool from Bing, is going to be part of CNN and MSNBC’s coverage of the upcoming State of the Union address by United States President Mr Barack Obama.
The way it worked in the past is analysts and pundits across networks and publications would try to make sense of the variety of feedback channels they get their data from, and then try to provide the updates to the viewers. Naturally that took some time and the final analyses would take hours and days, if not weeks.
Instead, Bing Pulse will enable MSNBC and CNN to provide real-time voting capabilities along several points within the President’s speech on Tuesday January 20. The results of these votes will be available in real time to the networks, which can then send it back to the viewers in a way that will make most sense.
Easy to activate and simple to use, Bing Pulse lets viewers make their voices heard from the convenience of a web-enabled device, on any platform. With a click of the mouse or tap of the screen, audiences can “pulse,” or weigh in, on how they feel as often as every five seconds. Bing values your privacy, so voting is anonymous.
To participate in the CNN’s debates/questions, go to bing.com/CNN and to participate in the MSNBC coverage, go to pulse.msnbc.com.
Have you used Bing Pulse before, either as a publisher or as a participant? Please share your feedback in the comments below.
Office Online, specifically Word Online, has a new feature which is rolling out now, which features tight integration with Bing. This new feature, announced on December 10, is called Insights for Office.
If you remember “Research” pane in earlier versions of Office, this may be familiar. Of course, Insights for Office is supposedly much more powerful because it is very contextual, and utilizes Bing to provide the best possible way to surface web content right inside Word.
The way it works is this: as you write something in Word Online, you can start searching for a word or phrase within the text (by right-clicking) and Bing’s various results are shown in a nice panel. You can see results from Bing Snapshot, Wikipedia, Bing Image Search, Oxford Dictionary, and the whole web. You can avoid switching windows in order to run the searches in a separate tab/window of the browser and instead, see the content right beside your text, thereby reducing workflow disruption.
Insights for Office will also be triggered through the TellMe search box since that is the other obvious place where someone may enter content-related queries.
Bing indexes and stores entity data from around the web representing real world people, places and things. Insights for Office utilizes Bing’s ability to index the world’s knowledge and our machine learned relevance models to semantically understand the most important content in a user’s document and then return the most relevant results. This capability is derived largely from patterns of text analysis developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research. The results deliver the most relevant web links, images, etc. for a given request in the form of entity cards – a quick overview of the most important attributes (description, date of birth, etc.) about a real world person, place or thing. In many cases, the entity card may provide enough information for the user’s query intent to be fulfilled without requiring any additional exploration.
This is yet another integration of Bing into a Microsoft product, further confirming that Bing cannot be spun off from Microsoft, if that thought is still in some investors’ minds. The tight coupling of Bing into a variety of other Microsoft products like Sway, Xbox, Cortana personal digital assistant, etc. solidify Microsoft’s positioning of Bing as a platform rather than a search engine.
On September 23, Microsoft detailed some of the new features delivered through the latest update of the Bing app on iPhone. With iOS 8, Apple did bulk up and two of the many features added were extensibility through sharing between apps as well as widgets on the notification screen.
The updated Bing app utilizes both of these features:
With Bing Translator feature of the app installed as a supported shareable app in Safari, you can now instantly translate any web page in Safari. This feature is also of course available inside the Bing app itself, so if you need to translate search results it can be done within the app itself.
Today and Trending Topics widget
In addition to the translator, the Bing app now lets you choose Bing Today as a lock screen widget. This widget shows the Bing Image Of The Day, as well as three top trending topics. Clicking on the image leads to the front page inside the Bing app and clicking on any of the trending topics leads to the news items about those trending topics.
Microsoft has moved Bing’s value from a pure desktop web search engine to a vast pool of entities and relationships which get better as more people use the service. The more “end points” Bing has, the better the quality of the engine becomes. With this background it is easy to see why the Bing team would improve the Bing app for iPhone and jump on the latest technologies supported by the latest features of iOS.
Although most users who need to search on iOS can now use iOS 8’s updated Spotlight, it is still nice to use an app that lets you search not just the web, but also news, images, photos, videos, etc., and that’s what the Bing app lets you do.
Do you use the Bing app on iOS? Do you like the updates?
That’s right, folks. You have not woken up in the 90’s all of a sudden. In a post on September 7 on the Official Microsoft Blog, officials at the company announced a new preview of their MSN portal. In addition, a big re-branding is planned, where all the Bing apps on Windows and Windows Phone will be renamed to corresponding MSN versions. Finally, these MSN apps will also expand to iOS and Android, reflecting the new philosophy at Microsoft where their own platform is just another platform.
The new MSN
The new site at preview.msn.com is a cleaner, fresher and adjusts according to the screen size (“responsive design”). The busy front page is gone and is now replaced with a main “top stories” panel with large pictures along with a few smaller units for other top news. Of course, there is a big ad space to the right.
As you scroll down, you see the normal sections for content: News, Entertainment, Sports, Money, Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Travel, Autos, and lastly, a section for Video. These sections can be moved up or down, or removed completely. Other sections can be added, from the following: Movies, TV, Music, World, US, Tech & Science and Politics.
Services strip and sections
Along the top, there is a strip of information, with quick access to various Microsoft and non-Microsoft services. This includes Outlook.com email, Office Online documents, OneNote notebooks, OneDrive storage, Maps, Xbox Music, Skype and optionally, Facebook and Twitter. For Facebook and Twitter, you have to not just sign in to Microsoft account, but also link your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I am not sure why this information is not derived from the existing Microsoft account, where at least in my case, I already have a link established to Facebook, Twitter and others. Below the services strip is a simple navigation link to access sections in your page directly and quickly.
When you mouse over the various services, you get a quick preview of what’s appropriate for the service, like the top 3 emails from your Outlook.com inbox, or recently used Office Online files, OneNote notebooks, and as you will see below, a map of the current location, files and folders from OneDrive, or latest tweets from Twitter.
As mentioned above, the Bing content apps that exist today on Windows and Windows Phone are going to be re-branded to MSN. As a first step in that process, the new msn has Favorites from Bing imported automatically, based on the Microsoft account used. So for example, my favorite sports teams showed up as Favorites in the Sports section, my watch list showed up under Finance, etc.
Don’t judge me, I liked the 49ers until they hired Harbaugh. That’s perhaps because I like USC and he has a history when he was at Stanford with the then USC coach whom I liked. And that’s going to explain why I like the Seahawks :-)
In addition to serving content from a variety of sources, the new msn also includes sections where you can gain some actionable insights. For example, there is a symptom checker in Health & Fitness, as well as a 3D Human Body in the same section.
Top-tier sources and iOS/Android
Per the announcement, the content on the new msn comes from a variety of top-tier sources.
We’ve partnered with the world’s best to deliver on this goal:
In the US, some of our premier partners include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, AOL (including TechCrunch and Huffington Post) and Condé Nast (including Vanity Fair, Epicurious, Bon Appétit).
Worldwide, we’re excited to include The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun in Japan; Sky News, The Guardian and the Telegraph in the UK, NDTV and Hindustan Times in India, Le Figaro and Le Monde in France, and many more.
Along with the new preview, Microsoft is also preparing to launch iOS and Android apps like the ones that exist on Windows and Windows Phone. These iOS and Android apps will roam Favorites and keep content in sync much like the connectedness of Windows and Windows Phone apps. This way, Microsoft is ensuring that no matter which device you use at any time of the day, you have the premier experience with consuming and using the msn content.
I like the new msn, except for the brand name itself. I am not sure the negativity around “msn” is as much as it is around “Internet Explorer” and we know how badly Microsoft and IE teams are trying to paint a brighter image of the latter. It is unclear why the “msn” brand is the one that Microsoft chose to continue with rather than coming up with a new brand or reusing the Bing brand. In any case, time will tell if the branding is right or not.
Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, has had the ability to predict outcomes of some events. Most recently, she did a near-perfect job of predicting World Cup results.
In an announcement on September 3, Microsoft says they have added NFL to the list of events that Cortana can predict. The American football season starts on September 4, so it is timely. In order to use this feature, just ask Cortana: “Who will win, team A or team B?”
Cortana’s prediction feature is based on Bing’s prediction engine. Bing on the desktop has enabled such predictions for reality shows on TV like the singing competition The Voice before.
Microsoft has earlier explained how Bing Predicts works, and how it is able to predict with a high level of accuracy. It is natural that they use all the signals and the data they have, to take it to one of the most popular sporting events in the American calendar.
For NFL predictions, Walter Sun from the Bing Predicts team says:
For pro football, we model the respective strengths of the teams by examining outcomes from previous seasons including wins, losses, and the very rare tie outcome (two games since 2009), factoring in margin of victories, location of contest, playing surface and roof cover (or lack thereof), weather and temperature conditions, scoring by quarters, and multiple offensive and defensive statistics. In addition to this prior model, we identify fans on Web and Social sites and track their sentiment to understand the aggregate wisdom of this expressive crowd. This introduces data which statistics alone cannot capture, providing real-time adjustments which surprisingly can capture injury news and other substantive factors in win probabilities.
I understand these things are more fun than useful, and I am not sure anyone who gambles will rely on this to make any bets, but it is good to see Microsoft showing off their machine learning prowess through normal use cases like predictions of NFL games.
If you are on Windows Phone 8.1, you can start asking right away. The beauty of most of Cortana’s features is that they are all web services-enabled, which means it does not require any client or app updates. Once Microsoft turns that feature on from the server side, it is available for everyone to use.
Let us know how you like the feature in the comments below!
On April 30, Microsoft’s Bing Relevance Team announced on the Search Blog some of the updates they are making to Smart Search in Windows 8.1.
In essence, Smart Search is getting smarter. Today, Smart Search is called so because it searches everything and not just one domain like the computer’s file system or the web. Searching for something via the Search Charm enables search across files, emails, apps, web, etc.
Now, with the power of Bing, one can enter natural language queries as shown below (from the blog post), and get relevant suggestions for things like PC settings. This may seem like a small and obvious update but it is actually quite nifty that customers don’t need to know which exact setting to look for, to change screen brightness, for example. Settings like the Control Panel have always been confusing and to most customers, intimidating. Making it easy to “get things done” as opposed to finding the right place to change settings, will help in reducing the confusion.
As the blog post goes on to say, the beauty of these updates is that because it is powered by Bing, all the benefits gained by Bing across all the end points can be funneled back as features into all other end points. Hence, Bing has stopped being a “search engine” a long time ago and for Microsoft, it is a machine learning platform.
This update will be rolling out this week, so it does not look like it needs an OS or app update. Happy searching!
Microsoft announced today that it has made a strategic investment in Klout, the controversial service that aims to monitor one’s influence on social networks. And, as is the case with its strategic investment in Facebook, there will be a technical partnership between the two companies; Klout scores will crop up in Bing search results, and the amount of times that you’ve been searched for on Bing will be yet another factor in just how influential Klout thinks you are.
On Bing, Klout scores and topics will be displayed next to the experts in the “People Who Know” section of its social sidebar. There will also be a link to each person’s Klout profile in an attempt to provide more context into why these people are experts in their respective fields.
In an attempt to broaden Klout’s scope of data used to determine an individual’s influence, Bing search data will now be factored into how one’s influence is measured on the service. The “experts” who show up in Bing’s “People Who Know” sidebar will be recognized on Klout, and those with a Wikipedia account associated with their profile will be rated based on how often they are searched for on Bing.
Microsoft’s premiere search engine, Bing, celebrates the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution with a beautiful graphic of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
225 years ago today, our founding fathers ratified the U.S. Constitution. It was the end result of a laborious process taken on by brave and pioneering men, who tirelessly argued in favor and against each other until they were able to pen document to “form a more perfect union”. The U.S. Constitution was created to replace its weaker predecessor, the Articles of the Confederation, which failed to provide for many things like an executive or judicial branch of government. In May 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened to essentially edit the Articles, but it became abundantly clear that a new document needed to be drawn. This was no easy task. There were many who didn’t believe the federal government should have power over the states. In fact, Rhode Island didn’t even send representatives to the convention because of their opposition. In the end, a great compromise prevailed and a framework for liberty and freedom was penned that has stood strong these 225 years.
The U.S. has endured many trials since those days. As a mingling of people and cultures from all over the world, it truly is amazing what the U.S. has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. While mistakes have been made along the way, such as the participation of many in our nation in slave trading, there have also been redeeming acts performed along the way, such as many who fought and died so that the slaves could be set free. It seems appropriate that Bing would picture Ellis Island, which stood for so long as the representation of the open door America had for the immigrants of the world. How many brave souls walked through those doors, being from a foreign land, and having no idea what was in store for them.
In 2004, Senator Robert Byrd created a bill to make Constitution Day a national observance. He said, “”Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world.” The law requires the teaching of the Constitution in all federally funded schools and agencies. He recognized that all citizens need to be informed about the Constitution. Below, I have included the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
It is my sincere hope that we Americans can someday live up to the standard set forth in the Constitution and that we can someday return to the spirit of mutual respect and compromise that was so evident among the founding fathers of this nation. If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Constitution, check out these resources:
Microsoft has announced rebranding of adCenter to Bing Ads and the launch of Yahoo! Bing Network, formerly known as Search Alliance.
Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance was born two years ago and reaches 151 million people today. The network includes the reach and benefits of Yahoo! Search and Bing partner publisher sites. Earlier this year, Microsoft brought all advertising marketing programs from Microsoft Advertising to the Bing umbrella. The latest announcement is a step in the same direction of streamlining a single digital advertising platform.
Bing Ads is a reimagined and improved way for managing campaigns on the Yahoo! Bing Network. Along with the rebranding, the platform has introduced a new Import Campaign feature which allows advertisers to import their search campaigns from Google Ad Words into Bing Ads. This will give their campaigns greater visibility and reach beyond just one search platform. Also, the new Editorial Exceptions feature will help advertisers resolve any editorial disapprovals during and after the ad submission process. With ongoing enhancements to the Bing Ads Editor tool, advertisers have an additional resource for tracking performance and identifying growth opportunities.
The Yahoo! Bing Network represents 70% of all searchers in the US, 20% of which are unique to the Yahoo! Bing Network. According to a comScore report quoted by Microsoft, searchers on Yahoo! Bing Network in the U.S. are likely to spend 24% more than the average searcher, and likely to spend 5% more than Google searchers.
On Thursday, the Bing Fund proudly announced that they have enrolled the first two startups into the program: Buddy, a service for mobile and web developers based in Kirland, Washington and Pinion, an advertising company that targets the gaming ecosystem based in Bellevue but originally from Australia.
Buddy was founded by David McLauchlan and Jeff MacDuff, who met when they both worked at Microsoft. Buddy sets out to reduce the time that developers spend working with server-side code, essentially providing a fully hosted and managed toolset of web services for application development, along with analytics for developers to monitor their apps.
Pinion, on the other hand, is working to help gaming communities generate revenue from their endeavors by taking advantage of the relatively untapped world of in-game advertising. Over 450 gaming communities are already a part of Pinion, and advertisers include Sony, Xbox, McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Budweiser, Warner Brothers, and Adidas.
The Bing Fund was originally announced on July 12, earlier this year. So, what other companies will the Bing Fund bring on board? There’s no word on that yet, but Rahul Sood of the Bing Fund said that they have their eyes on a few companies in San Francisco and Boulder.