Microsoft is aiming to make its search engine the most social way to search the web. Today the company announced the next version of its Bing search engine, which is being entirely revamped with a three-pane interface.
The first pane, located on the far left, will have traditional search results, while the one in the middle has a "snapshot" view, which shows related searches, maps, and core information about the results.
The biggest change comes with the right pane, which the company calls the "social sidebar." It contains related social updates from Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live, LinkedIn, etc. You can use it to ask Facebook friends about your search. Bing will also suggest friends who might know something about the topic you are searching for.
"Research tells us that 90 percent of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision -whether it's something as simple as which train will take you uptown or who is the best dentist in Boulder, other people are often the most trusted source of information," Bing Corporate Vice President Derrick Connell wrote on the Bing blog this afternoon.
Naturally there are some privacy concerns tied to tying social with search, but Connell assures users in the post that they are "maximizing protection for your data and your privacy."
Google has recently tied Google +, its own social network, into social search results. Google+ updates from friends now appear in search results, and Vic Gundotra, Google's senior VP of social business, has even said that Google+ is the future of Google. "In the new Google, we know your name, we understand your circles, and we make every service better," Gundotra said at SXSW in March.
The new Bing will be released to users in the U.S. in the "coming days," said Microsoft. Those interested in trying it out early can sign up at www.bing.com/new.