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Hot off the heels of unveiling their protégée at the Wall Street Journal: All Things Digital conference in California last week, Microsoft launched their brand new search engine BING into the world 2 days earlier than planned.
BING is designed to take over from Microsoft’s current search engine Live Search, and its already being tipped as a dangerous contender for the mighty Google. Early reviews of the site have been extremely encouraging. Bing differs from other search engines in as much it aims to give you less choice as opposed to more. It offers a more targeted results list, with the option of displaying further results. Instead of bombarding the user with a blanket response to questions BING provides a narrower but more select response to questions.

Another key feature of Bing is that instead of directing the user to an external site to view, for example, videos, listen to music, read articles, or shop online, it allows you to do all this without ever leaving Bing. It also offers an exclusive video search service as part of the package. In theory this should lead to greater ease of use and accessibility.

Whether or not Bing can rival the other major search engines such as Google and Yahoo remains to be seen. What is certain however is that the search engine as we know it is evolving, and that can only be good news for internet users the world over.

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Microsoft has revealed plans to revamp its Hotmail service in order to keep up with the rapid growth of rival email provider Gmail.

In the past Microsoft have increased email storage on their Hotmail service in an attempt to outdo Gmail which continues to grow in popularity. However this time round, Microsoft has some highly sophisticated plans up its sleeve as it prepares to launch a string of new features for its hotmail users.

The first new facility Microsoft has planned is to link its search engine Bing to Hotmail emails, plus links to Silver Light media player, and Sky Drive online store. The idea behind the new additions is to allow Hotmail users to do everything within their inbox without opening additional tabs. The changes to Hotmail should come into play by the middle of the summer, although there’s no set date as yet.

The alterations to the email server will also enable users to view picture galleries inside emails and exchange pictures, videos, documents and all sorts of files within the body of the email so as to do away with the use of space consuming attachments.

New filters will also be introduced which aim to cut down on nuisance spam mail. The facility will allow users to delete all emails from specific addresses and enable them to opt out of receiving further mail from a certain address.

Microsoft’s Hotmail is still the world’s largest email provider with 360 million users worldwide compared to Gmail’s 50 million users. However it seems Hotmail isn’t content to rest their laurels and hope the developments planned for their email service will further strengthen their position as the number one email provider.

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Microsoft are set to experiment with a new rewards scheme. By simply using Bing services, the new system will allow users to build up credit which can then be spent on a wide range of products from DVDs to cookware.

In July Microsoft announced the end of its cash back scheme which offered rebates on products which users searched for using the Bing search engine.

Although their first attempt at offering customer rewards got off to a shaky start, Microsoft are preparing to trial their latest system straight away.

Users who want to try out the new rewards scheme need to download the Bing Bar and sign up to the Bing Rewards Program. The Bing Bar will alert users to new features and offers, as well as keeping members updated on the amount of credit they’ve collected.

Credit can be obtained through a variety of ways. Setting Bing as the users default search engine will earn credits, as will experimenting with new Bing features, and also searching via Bing.

The Bing Rewards Program allows users to exchange their credits for a wide range of products including DVDs, luggage, digital cameras, restaurant gift certificates, and also charity donations.

Initially the rewards scheme will only be available in the US, although if it’s a success it could be rolled out across other parts of the world.

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The search engine Yahoo has revealed its annual list of the most popular searches made throughout the year of 2010.

While the list is mainly dominated by celebrity names, heading up the poll in the number one spot of subjects searched on Yahoo this year was the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast.

Last year, Yahoo reported that the death of Michael Jackson was the most searched subject on their search engine knocking US pop star Britney Spears off the top spot after three years. In 2009 Britney dropped to 5th on the Yahoo most searched chart, and dropped further this year to 10th place.

Although Yahoo’s poll is a fairly good indicator of trends within the online world, Google is still the most used search engine in the world and boasts billions of users worldwide, therefore their chart, which is due for release later this month, is likely to better gauge the popularity of people and events who’ve dominated the past 12 months.

Microsoft’s search engine Bing recently revealed their list of popular searches of 2010 which named American reality TV star, Kim Kardashian as its number one, while AOL named Tiger Woods as their most searched subject of the year.

The bulk of subjects trending on this year’s Yahoo search engine results list were celebrity names including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Megan Fox.

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Microsoft has this week confirmed that they attempted to buy Facebook in 2007 for $15 billion (£9.5 billion).

The admission came during Le Web Conference in Paris where Microsoft’s senior director of strategy acquisitions, Fritz Lanman, was speaking as part of the panel.

Lanman revealed that Microsoft had attempted to acquire Facebook back in 2007 for $15 billion but this offer was rejected. The Microsoft boss added that the social network was a particularly appealing proposition as Lanman described Facebook as being reminiscent of an early Microsoft.

This buy-out attempt was first reported in David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect, in which he reports that the social network founder, Zuckerberg, rejected Microsoft’s offer because he wanted to keep control of the company.

After the offer to acquire Facebook was rejected, Microsoft instead opted to invest $240 million into the social network which gave them a 1.6% share of the company, and the chance for the two organisations to cooperate in the future.

The move has been of mutual benefit to both companies with Microsoft indexing Facebook updates on its search engine Bing, and by also offering Facebook users the chance to use a web-based version of Microsoft Word, known as

Fritz Lanman became the first person from the Microsoft corporation to confirm that a buy-out attempt of Facebook had taken place.

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Google have taken a pop at a rival search engine, Microsoft’s Bing, accusing them of cheating by copying their search results.

In reaction, Bing have strongly denied Google’s claims, saying they use “multiple signals and approaches” to compile their search results list and refute any accusations of copying and have instead accused Google of “spy-novelesque stunts.”

However a Google employee has created an online blog explaining how the investigation was conducted. According to the blog, Google engineers input a hundred fake nonsensical search queries and also phoney results. Google claims that within a matter of weeks, Bing were indexing the search queries and false results.

Bing have hit back at Google’s accusations, saying the investigation’s findings do not prove Bing have cheated. Instead the accused search engine says Google’s findings show “we learn from customers who are willing to share data with us” which they argue is the same strategy Google employs while compiling their results.

Instead of showing Bing up as cheats, Google’s alleged evidence may only prove that Bing are capable of picking up on trends quickly by indexing results for the dummy queries as they noted an increase of searches for this topic.

Bing have batted aside Google’s cheating claim calling it a “creative tactic” by a competitor to dent their reputation.