"We've been in this market for about four years," Ballmer told ABC News in an interview. "And this is the first time I can say we have a clearly different point of view on how to do a search."
Ballmer spoke to "World News" anchor Charles Gibson via Webcam about the new offering named "Bing," which goes live worldwide on Wednesday, June 3.
So what's different, other than the catchy name that brings to mind the sound of a kitchen timer -- Bing! -- a bicycle bell -- Bing! Bing! -- or buying a vowel on the "Wheel of Fortune" -- Bing, Bing, Bing!
Ballmer said that Bing is not just about finding relevant Web pages.
"It's that and it is more," Ballmer said. "We'll try to get you the best answer. We'll try to get you a preview of those pages so you're not clicking around and clicking back."
For example, if you're shopping for a digital camera, Bing will list the cameras, with photos, for the searcher to make comparisons.
"I don't think people just want 10 choices," Ballmer said. "I think people really want the answer to their question. They want to find the thing they want to buy. They want to plan their trip."
So how does Bing point you to that answer in one shot? Microsoft's promotional video says that, instead of just spitting out results in order of popularity, Bing breaks them into logical categories and pulls out information buried in the site. It also highlights instant answers and shows you related searches on the side of the page.
"Wired" magazine recently got to test-drive Bing. The magazine's reviewers say it's a "clear improvement" over Microsoft's current search engine Live.com (did you even know Microsoft already had a search engine?), but "it doesn't quite go far enough to make us feel that it's time to dump Google."
Wired reports that Bing crawls listings at review services like CitySearch and Yelp.com and then summarizes the results. If you're looking for a restaurant, it displays a scorecard for each establishment and also rates things like food, service and wait time. And if you're planning a trip, Bing will take you directly to a full-service reservation system to book plane tickets or hotel rooms.
Bing! You Found It
"We use natural language intelligence to scan the Web," Ballmer explained. "And it will give you a sense about what the Web thinks about … how it rates a product."
Unfortunately, you can't try out Bing until its release next week. If you go to bing.com, you only see the promotional video and links to Bing's Facebook and Twitter sites. Bing already has more than 2,700 fans on Facebook and, judging by the comments, the name is certainly a hit but reminds some of a certain character from "Friends."
Coburn Hawk: I would love to try this out. Bing me, baby.
Chin Yu: Bata BING!
Fred Delmer: Bing it on!
Drilon Potera: Chandler Bing is gonna sue your ... search-box.
Bing will technically be global at its release, but it appears non-U.S. searches or "decisions" may leave something to be desired. Ballmer said Microsoft's first efforts have been to "optimize results for people in the United States."
Asked if Microsoft hopes to become the default search engine, like Google is now, with an 8-to-1 advantage in number of searches, Ballmer said, "It's a long journey. We're not going to go from 1-to-8 to 8-to-1in a short amount of time. This is a grind, it's innovation. It doesn't just flip overnight."
But does Microsoft think Bing can not only provide the answers to our questions, but actually be the answer to its own question about how to catch up with Google?
"I don't have all the answers," Ballmer said. "Google's a big company. They're not going to go away in any way, shape or form."
"But we hope a number of people are going to say, 'Bing, man. That's the way to go.'"