Windows 8.1 is intended to “fix” many of the perceived problems of Windows 8. However, for the Bing team, the release of Windows 8.1 offered a new opportunity to more deeply integrate Bing into the OS and provide a richer experience for users.
With the new release, Bing becomes something more than a “search engine.” It becomes a central utility and content discovery tool that offers a “re-imagined” experience. Bing will help users discover and organize information both on the PC and on the Web. It also finds personal content in the cloud.
The notion is to both simplify and deepen the search experience. The screens I saw (below) of the new Bing results pages look nothing at all like conventional search results. Bing has incorporated the Windows 8 design into the presentation of content and made it much more visually appealing.
Users don’t “go to Bing” to obtain the new experience; it’s available from any screen. In the old days, this deep OS-search integration might have raised anti-competitive concerns; however, not in the current climate. And, it has competitive implications for Google if Windows 8.1 is successful. However, Windows 8 has struggled to date.
Below is an example search result provided by Microsoft; I’ve not had the opportunity to use Bing for Windows 8.1. The image below was originally a single horizontal page, which I’ve had to cut in half to fit in this post. It scrolls left to right, consistent with the Windows 8 design.
This new Bing experience is designed to offer more comprehensive information, even as it seeks to make search simpler and enrich the presentation of content. Here’s how the Bing team describes the changes:
We think that your search experience should be beautiful as well as functional and we don’t think the two are at odds. Modern search takes the best of Bing multimedia and brings it into the Windows search experience to create something that’s not only useful and well-organized but also highly crafted. You’ll see rich images across all your search results that help you find what you’re looking for faster and help bring order to the vast information on the web. Modern search needs to be functional, and we think it should also be spectacular.
My sense is that Bing is now so central and deeply integrated into Windows 8.1 that it ceases to be a “search engine” as most people think of that term. I’m eager to try it out.
I don’t think that the new Bing search experience will help sell Windows 8.1. But I do believe that it could become one of the more compelling parts of the user experience for those who do buy Windows machines or upgrade their existing operating systems.