Bing recently introduced its updated people search feature and today, Microsoft is adding a few improvements to its people search that will make it even easier to find information about celebrities, politicians, athletes and many people with public LinkedIn profiles. Bing’s search box now auto-suggests names as you type. Because many people share the same name, this also means that it’s now easier to tell Bing who exactly you are looking for before you even hit the return key.
According to the Bing team, about 10 percent of searches on Bing are currently about people. This makes it the second most important search category on the service, right after navigational queries.
Microsoft has invested heavily in improving its people search and other semantic search features on the site, which now compete directly with Google’s Knowledge Graph. Bing’s Satori Entity Engine powers all of these features, which are typically revealed in Bing’s Snapshots bar (that is, in between the regular web links on the left and the social sidebar on the right).
In many ways, Satori’s mission is akin to Google’s Knowledge Graph, as it aims to help Microsoft understand more about the world. As Microsoft’s director of online services Stefan Weitz told me when the company released its last update to Satori, Google’s Knowledge Graph is a “kick-ass encyclopedia,” but Bing wants to go a step further and make all of this information “actionable.”
This new update, Microsoft notes in today’s announcement, was co-developed by its Search Technological Center (STC-E) in London in close collaboration with the User Experience team in Bellevue, Wash.
Read this article: Bing Improves Its People Search With Autosuggest
Bing‘s social sidebar, which shows relevant entries from your Facebook friends, Twitter, Klout, Quora and other services, just got a lot more interactive. You can now like Facebook posts in the social sidebar and add their own comments. In addition you can now also see all of the existing comments on a post right in the sidebar, too.
This, Microsoft believes, will make the social search experience on Bing even more interactive, engaging and helpful than before.
It also means users don’t have to leave Bing to engage with these posts. Chances are, after all, that they will get distracted by all of the other goodies Facebook has to offer once they leave Bing and won’t return anytime soon.
Personally, I’ve never found these social search results all that useful. Microsoft, however, clearly believes that this, in combination with what they are doing around semantic search, will allow it to continue to compete with Google, which seems to have de-emphasized social search over the last few months.
With its Scroogled campaign and “Bing It On” challenge, Microsoft has obviously been taking a far more aggressive stance against Google in recent months and it’s slowly adding new users. Currently, Google has a market share of about 67 percent in the U.S., and Bing is close to reaching 17 percent.
There have been some recent rumors, however, that Yahoo is looking to drop Bing as its search provider (Yahoo currently commands just under 12 percent of the U.S. search market with its Bing-powered search), but given the long-term deal between the two companies, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Read the original post: Bing Now Allows Users To Like And Comment On Facebook Entries Right From Its Social Sidebar
Microsoft as a company is an elder statesman of technology, with its history in the industry woven tightly into the fabric of the industry, as much in the tech world comes directly from Redmond.
However, decades into its history, Microsoft is working to add a new focus to its traditional consumer-and-enterprise view of the world: startups.
Yes, Microsoft is working to link up, nurture, fund, and accelerate startups around the world, using a combination of financial, technological, and relationship tools. It’s a large, diverse undertaking that until now has been a touch unfocused. The company is hoping to change that, bringing its efforts to heel in a more cohesive fashion.
To that end, Rahul Sood has joined Microsoft, and, after starting the Bing Fund – more on that later – now enjoys the job title of Global General Manager for Startups at Microsoft, though we might have the capitalization a bit off. In short, Sood is the big cheese of startup work at the company.
His path to Microsoft isn’t traditional, but it isn’t outlandish either. Previously he built VooDoo PC, a gaming hardware company that eventually sold to HP. Dell, as you will recall, picked up Alienware, arguably VooDoo’s direct competitor.
I caught up recently with Rahul, and as the TNW conference kicks off, it’s a perfect time to take a look at just what Microsoft is doing to link up with young companies. Can it find its cool? Let’s take a look.
Rahul joined Microsoft without a clear role, in his estimation. He stuck around for a full 11 months and the decided that he had either to build something of value, or he would find himself unemployed. His words, I assure you.
Looking at the startup space – Rahul will confess to status as an angel investor – he decided that he wanted to build a program that “startups would kill to join.” Microsoft has a number of unique strengths in his view, not the least of which is its deep relationship with a great number of enterprise-level companies. Startups that are focused on that space could use a friend like Microsoft. And Microsoft has money.
And thus the Bing Fund was born.
Though Rahul is now handling a larger role, he still active with the Bing Fund.
You are always told, according to Rahul, that when you head into a large company, things simply aren’t going to work as you expect. That said, adopting an attitude in which ‘no’ is not an acceptable answer can help move things along.
The Bing Fund faced friction before it became a reality. Microsoft as a company didn’t make investments of the sort before. Microsoft has cash – endless mountains of it – but how can a company of its scale keep functional tabs on its ROI? In this case, seed funding wouldn’t just be a needle in a haystack, it would instead be a speck lost in sand on a beach.
Microsoft doesn’t need a small investment to pay off. It doesn’t. If something like its investment into Facebook makes it hundreds of millions, then great! But a seed round? Well, the numbers just don’t tip the scale.
That in mind, companies that receive money from Microsoft via the Bing Fund are invested in with a convertible note. And Microsoft is – at least it intends to be this early in the life of the fund – willing to forgive the debt completely if a company meets “certain thresholds.” So if you are a great fit with Microsoft, the company will simply absolve any claim to your shares.
With great assets comes potential benevolence.
The gist of this is that Microsoft is looking to partner with growing companies, not own them. This may sound like generosity, but more likely the company simply doesn’t want to manage them. The traditional role of an investor isn’t what it wants. This isn’t to say that companies part of the Bing Fund are not supported, it is instead to point out that Microsoft isn’t a normal source of capital.
Partnerships help Microsoft wear it counts: growing cash flow, and not where it doesn: more cash in the bank divorced from continuing income; Microsoft’s investors don’t value the company as much on its bank account as its ability to grow future top and bottom line.
As an aside for entrepreneurs, here’s what Rahul is looking for, if you want his money: Companies that are disruptive, have a blanced team, and that Microsoft can bring real value to.
This value addition isn’t surface-level. I volunteered the example of a company that could benefit from the Azure cloud computing platform. That didn’t sit well with Rahul, as it was too vauge; other firms could offer that same value. How about, instead, he ventured, a company that could leverage both Azure, and Bing’s APIs? That, he said, “is when it gets very interesting.” Microsoft Research was also name-checked as a resource that startups might mine once they link up with the company.
How much money might Microsoft invest? It’s flexible, according to Rahul, but the company doesn’t do full rounds. It prefers instead to be one of several seed investors; again, Microsoft’s cash is a weapon, but in its view its rolodex is far more valuable than straight cash. Others have money. Dollars are cheap.
The company is willing, perhaps, to put more money into B and C rounds. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.
The Bing Fund is only one of Microsoft’s startup-oriented initiatives. It also contributes to venture funds, teams with accelerators, and operates BizSpark, which is its own shebang.
Its work in Rio, however, merits a glance. As TNW’s Anna Heim reported recently:
Microsoft is launching an accelerator in Rio de Janeiro, the company announced. Called Acelera Rio, it plans to welcome 15 startups over the next 24 months.
As we reported, Microsoft announced a few days ago that it would open an advanced tech center in the city, and invest around $100 million USD over the next four years. [...]
In addition, it will provide each startup with up to R$1 million in convertible notes – around $500k – which will be granted in several installments if they reach pre-established quarterly goals.
The fund is in partnership with the government, which is also putting in funds to help startups pay salaries.
The wider view is this: Microsoft is investing time and energy into reaching and helping young companies. In hopes that they will grow strong, and continue a firm diet of its software and service and device products.
Aside from the obvious commercial interest, why might the company take such an aggressive outreach program? Twofold, primarily because the company thinks that it is in its financial self interest. And two, because in terms of its brand among young companies, the firm has work to do.
Let’s be frank, Microsoft has a mindshare deficit among startups and the burgeoning new classes of technology.
I recently attended Tech Forum at Microsoft’s headquarters, a yearly event that brings together a handful of press, and a parade of key Microsoft executives. It’s a fun confab, but there was a small moment of awkwardness that I should confess: During the opening session, we attendees were assembled for the first time. And the room had around a dozen Macbooks, and two other reporters scribbling on paper; at Microsoft’s event, among the journalists that often cover it the most, no one was typing on a Windows-based machine.
Like a said, a touch awkward.
What does this mean for startups and Microsoft? Simply that the company’s device and platform share, despite being the norm for most demographics, is all but barren among tech elites – in the startup sense – and the tech media. This tilts coverage against the company’s interests, frankly, as a lack of general awareness about its services and software often lead to woody journalism.
Direct engagement is the only solution. And just as with devices Microsoft is making progress, so too is the company penetrating minds in the Valley and beyond.
Terry Myerson – honcho of Windows Phone – has likened his team to a startup inside of Microsoft. The company is trying to become more nimble, in Rahul’s estimation. The alligning of assets isn’t just happening externally – think of the shared Windows core – but also internally, with improved inter-team collaboration. Microsoft is notorious for intra-bickering.
BizSpark, Rahul told TNW, is “doing great from the standpoint of paving the way inside and outside of Microsoft to create a pone where startups are using its products.” He wants to go deeper however, which seems to indicate that the Bing Fund could become a favored investor among select BizSpark firms.
Will Microsoft come into San Francisco, the locus of much of Californian technology innovation, in addition to its current campus in the South Bay? “Stay tuned,” Rahul told me, going on to mention the large number other markets that suport growing startup ecosystems, such as London, and parts of Israel.
Still, Rahul allowed, “Silicon Valley is obviously very important,” and Microsoft will it more over time.
Looking ahead, Rahul wants to expand the Bing Fund “holistically.” When asked, he stated that BizSpark companies may up as Fund companies. What he needs, however, is people. The right people. At the “president level,” Rahul said,” things are changing” at Microsoft. And to continue that shift he needs people to staff the organs of Microsoft’s startup process.
Expect more money, more programs, and perhaps, change.
Image credit: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
Read more from the original source: Microsoft pushes into the world of startups and Rahul Sood is leading the charge
Today Bing announced that it would be rolling out several new products and features for the coming State of the Union address by President Obama next week.
Bing intends to release Bing Pulse, which will collect votes from Americans at five second intervals, providing an exceptionally quick, live reaction to the President’s yearly speech. Bing Pulse results will be shown at Bing’s political hub, which is set to be rebuilt for the State of the Union.
Bing is prepping itself for the speech as it were a fancy ball, for which it needed a new jacket or gown. Enter the one-time-use experiences!
Added to the mix is Bing Beat, another forthcoming social media sentiment tracker that will, quite obviously, scan Twitter and the like to provide information on how the speech is playing among those large audiences. In short, if you want to get a firm look into the response to the President’s carefully crafted, and already tested words, Bing intends to have you covered.
It’s an interesting, if unsurprising move. Bing is constantly looking for ways to extend its algorithms, data, and engineering man hours in ways that will help it differentiate itself from Google. Bing, which is performing just fine the market – growing slowly in market share in the expanding search category- is hoping to increase its size by more than direct engagement with Google’s core search competencies.
How Bing will be better integrated with Microsoft’s growing suite of consumer and enterprise cloud tools could be among its next moves in this push.
Whatever the case, Bing’s political hub will be something likely worth while to have up on a second or third screen as the words roll in.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
Bing users across the Internet are reporting issues relating to the Bing.com website and service, indicating a wide service disruption.
TNW was able to reproduce the downtime on several machines. However, one device that we did use to check the issue – a Samsung Series 8 tablet running Windows 8 – did load the website. We were able to produce the service issue using Safari on OS X, Chrome on OS X and Windows 7, and Internet Explorer 10 on a separate Windows 8 machine, each failing to load the search engine’s website.
Bing’s Windows 8 applications, including its main search app, appear to be online.
This morning Microsoft users reported an outage with both Outlook.com and Office 365. Microsoft informed TNW that the error was the result of maintenance.
Some Microsoft services experienced a short-term issue as a result of a networking adjustment. We worked quickly to roll back the adjustments made and all services are now restored to normal.
There is no reason as of yet to believe that the outages are related, although they could both stem from an issue on the Azure cloud computing platform. However, that remains speculation at this point.
TNW has reached out to Microsoft for comment on the disruption.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson commented to TNW on the issue, noting that they have seen the error, and are working to resolve it:
“Microsoft is aware that Bing is experiencing isolated technical issues and some users may be impacted. Bing is analyzing the issue and working to resolve as soon as possible.”
Second Update: Bing is back. No official word on the cause of the outage, but the website is now back on all of TNW’s testing machines. The earliest report of the disruption places it at 3:33 PST, making the total outage for some at least 1:50 in length.
Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble
See the original post: Following Outlook.com and Office 365 outages, Bing users report service disruptions