Bing is rolling out a new version of its toolbar today, that features deeper integrations with search, Facebook, email clients and more. You access your Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Gmail accounts and you can bring in your Facebook network and push status updates from the actual bar.
Unfortunately, it’s only available for Windows and IE right now. Microsoft says the approach for the new version was “make the stuff you do every day online easier,” hence the integration with Facebook, search and email. One notable difference in the new version is that the search box is smack in the center of the toolbar. Search history, suggestions and deep links are all marked distinctly in the box (by color) to help users search faster.
The deepest integration seems to be with Facebook. The toolbar will have notification capabilities for new status updates, messages and more, and will allow you to access your news feed, and comment on or like an update within the toolbar. Users can also view friends photos in a collage format.
The toolbar integrates with Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Gmail and allows users to quickly preview email. Another key component of the new version are alerts, which will appear and fade away unless you click on the notification. For now, the toolbar will include Facebook and E-mail alerts as well as alerts for breaking news (with a short summary of the headlines), weather advisories, translation alerts (when there is web content available for translation), new Bing Rewards offers and more.
Bing’s search share is steadily climbing and this toolbar is surely going to be useful for power Bing users. My only issue with the UI is that it could get cluttered (and distracting) with all of the information, notifications and alerts turned on.