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Microsoft Abandons its Search Engine for a ‘Decision’ Engine

Live is now Bing, the widgetry that was code named Kumo during its creation

Microsoft did as expected and unwrapped its remade, rebranded search engine when CEO Steve Ballmer turned up for a chat with PC maven Wall Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in California Thursday.

Live is now Bing, the widgetry that was code named Kumo during its creation.

It is only, we are told, Microsoft's initial step in trying to narrow the vast 55 point market share lead that Google has on it in search but Microsoft is reportedly prepared to spend $80 million-$100 million on an ad campaign trying to turn Bing into a verb.

It is not so much a search engine as it is a "decision engine," Microsoft says, (the application of that old Harvard trick of changing any question you can't answer).

Microsoft's research (done by comScore) found that the most frequent clicked thing on a search page is the back button: 25%. Thirty percent of searches are abandoned and another 66% require more refined queries. It also found that 66% of searchers are using the Internet to make complex decisions.

Bing is supposed to return more relevant results immediately, particularly in four key areas to start with: namely buying, travel, health and local businesses.

It organizes results into groups and related searches with a table of contents called Quick Tabs.

And it has features like Deep Links (into sites), Quick Preview (a hovering relevancy gauge), Instant Answers (leveraging Wikipedia and Encarta), Sentiment Extraction (user opinions and product reviews), Rate Key (hotel price comparisons) and Price Predictor (when to buy an airline ticket for the least amount of money).

Microsoft said it is using technology from Powerset, the natural language search firm it acquired last year as well as its year-ago Farecast airfare prediction acquisition.

Bing.com will go online next week and should be ubiquitous by June 3.

Microsoft's cashback come-on will turn into Bing cashback and Virtual Earth, one of Microsoft's better names, will now be Bing Maps for Enterprise.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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