Bing’s iPhone app isn’t the only thing getting an upgrade today at Microsoft’s search engine. Bing is also starting to roll out close to 100 new features to its main search engine on the Web. The biggest change is a new major search category under Bing Entertainment, which will include better ways to search for music, movies, TV shows, and games. “We did travel, health, shopping and local last year,” explains senior VP Yusuf Mehdi. “Now the Web has unlocked all of this entertainment, but for many people they are spending too much time looking for what they want to do instead of enjoying it. We are trying to remove all of those hurdles that block you from enjoying it. You should be able to watch a show, listen to online music, or play a game with a few clicks.”
Roughly 10 percent of all searches are entertainment related, according to Mehdi. And 90 percent of people do at least one entertainment search a month. Bing Entertainment is designed to provide a more in-depth and visual search experience for music, movies, TV shows, and games.
One of the most noticeable changes will come in music. Music searches will now come back with lyrics and playable streams for 5 million songs, which have already been licensed through Microsoft’s Zune service. A full stream of each song will be playable once per person, and then 30-second clips will be available in subsequent searches. (In this regard, Bing is catching up to Google, which launched a similar music search late last year). The idea is to make it easier for people to discover music and sample them. There will also be links to Amazon, iTunes, and Zune to buy full downloads.
When you search for an artist or a song, a special Answer Box (informally known as the Bing Box) will appear at the top of the search results page. It may be filled with pictures of the artist, a playlist of popular songs, upcoming events, their Tweets, and a link to the artist’s official site.
Movie searches will create an Answer Box with photo stills, a synopsis, local show times, and links to trailers. The results will be geared to help you plan a night out at the movies, complete with maps, parking, nearby restaurant suggestions and more. For TV shows, you will get TV listings in your area and sometimes playable streams from Hulu, Viacom, CBS and other partners through Bing Videos. Whenever available, trailers and TV shows will play within Bing.
Games searches will be geared toward both hardcore console gamers (teenagers) and casual Web gamers (Moms). For console games, results will be filtered to easily find walkthroughs, reviews, and cheats. Casual game searches sometimes take you to games you can play on Bing like Checkers and Bejeweled.
By bringing entertainment experiences it Bing, searchers might stick around longer. Search used to take you away to what you were looking for on the Web, but data (including music, video, and games) can move anywhere now, even to search engines. It might be time to retire that rule.