Microsoft Corp is hoping its Bing search engine can gain more ground on Google with a little more help from Facebook and its other Internet friends.
As part of an extensive upgrade announced on Wednesday, Bing will feature more recommendations and other information from people's social circles on Facebook to help distinguish its results from Google's.
Bing also is teaming up with several other Internet firms to make it easier to complete a variety of tasks, such as buying tickets to a sporting event or making reservations at a restaurant, on its site.
The changes, which will start appearing during the next few weeks, are unlikely to shift the balance of power in the lucrative search market any time soon. Google Inc ended November with a 66 percent share of the US search market while Bing remained a distant third at just under 12 percent, according to the research firm comScore Inc. Bing recently started to power Yahoo's US search engine, whose 16 percent share ranks second to Google.
Despite the huge gap, Microsoft has been encouraged by the progress it has made since it retooled its search engine and rebranded it as Bing in June 2009. Bing has about 90 million regular users now, up from 27 million when it made its debut, according to Satya Nadella, a senior vice president in Microsoft's online services division.
Some of the new features unveiled on Wednesday provided a glimpse at how Microsoft hopes to capitalize on a competitive advantage it gained in October when Facebook agreed to give Bing greater access to the 500 million people who have set up accounts on its social network.
Google Inc still isn't able to compile the same volume of Facebook information in its search index.
In one upcoming change, if you are searching on Bing while signed into your Facebook account, some of the links listed in the results might include notation showing that one of your Facebook friends liked the website or a product.
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