Microsoft Details Takedown Requests in Expanded Transparency Report

 

Microsoft launch their new transparency website yesterday, bringing together all their existing transparency reports, including the Law Enforcement Requests Report and U.S. National Security Orders Report. The website also includes a new transparency report that details the requests that Microsoft received from a variety of parties seeking the removal of online content. The company’s reports break down requests into three categories, takedown requests based on alleged violations of local laws and Microsoft’s terms of service, copyright takedowns and takedowns performed as the result of “right to be forgotten” requests in Europe.

With it being no secret about the European court being all over Google like a bad rash regarding “the right to be forgotten,” it comes as no surprise that Bing has become the main focus of these reports. That’s not to mention users Windows 10 privacy concerns alongside Cortana also using Bing as its default search engine. It appears as a result of this combination and users being more aware of their rights to be forgotten, that data removal requests are on the rise. Copyright takedown requests were by far the most common worldwide with Microsoft receiving more than 1 million total requests to remove links from Bing that people claimed infringed on their copyrights.

That leads us quite nicely to the next section of this article, are you ready to put your tin foil hat on? The government data requests section might be the one section that most people will be interested in. As the report shows requests for user data from government agencies are on the rise when compared to last year’s requests. Although the number is still relatively low, from the second half of 2014 it is up from 31,002 to 35,228. Furthermore, Microsoft appears to have become stricter on how it deals with those requests rejecting 4,383 of them for not meeting its legal requirements. That’s nearly twice as many rejected as it did in the last half of 2014. Microsoft goes on to state that just 3 percent of requests from law enforcement agencies resulted in the disclosure of customer content.

Microsoft is currently involved in a lawsuit regarding the U.S. government requesting that they hand over data from a data centre in Ireland. This doesn’t mean Government agencies are not obtaining our data in other ways right?. A quick side note, I found it entertaining that China filed 165 takedown requests for content it did not want consumers to see. To put that into perspective, that is almost eight times as many as all other countries requests combined.

It seems clear that Microsoft appears to be taking their responsibility of user data seriously. Are you worried about the Government getting hold of all your searches? Let us know in the comments below

Thank you Microsoft for providing us with this information

Microsoft Discouraging Users From Downloading Competing Browsers

Microsoft is aggressively pushing the Edge browser in Windows 10 and trying to prevent users from downloading an alternative such as Chrome, Firefox or Opera. By default, Windows 10 only includes Microsoft products such as Edge or Internet Explorer 11 and you have to use Bing to procure a different browser. If you search for any other leading browser, a message pops up and proclaims, “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” and contains a “Learn why” button next to that message which directs you to a website outlining Edge’s feature set. In lieu of these revelations, Microsoft issued a statement which reads:

“Microsoft Edge was designed exclusively for Windows 10 with features and functionality that enhance the browsing experience such as Cortana, Web Note and Quick answers,”  

“These notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice.”

This kind of advertising isn’t limited to Microsoft as Google often argues the benefits of using Chrome. Although, EU courts have come down quite strong on Microsoft for pushing their browser.  In 2013, Microsoft were fined £481 million by a European court for engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. Originally, Microsoft divulged information about other web browsers to stop Internet Explorer’s unfair monopoly. However, this feature magically disappeared after a Windows 7 update. Microsoft argued this was due to a technical error. Whatever the case, it seems Microsoft is once again pushing their own browser and could be misconstrued as being unfair to the competiton. On another note, I’m not entirely convinced the notification will make any user refrain from downloading a competing product.

Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Uber Accquires Bing Mapping Assets and 100 Engineers from Microsoft

Car-hailing firm Uber is making big strides into the mapping market, acquiring mapping data as well as about 100 image-collection engineers from Microsoft. Uber has been looking to making their mobile app better, mainly in the area of better maps to bring drivers and riders together. While companies transferring data and technology isn’t something new, the movement of about 100 engineers is rare.

With such a large movement of engineers, it looks like Uber actually may have acquired a Bing mapping division or some part of it at least. What is most surprising though isn’t that Uber wanted the data and engineers, but that Microsoft was willing to part with them. Microsoft has spent a lot of money trying to build up their Bing search and mapping platforms and divesting itself of this many experienced engineers is not a sign of confidence.

both Uber and Microsoft are facing tough times ahead of them. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke about making tough choices in the near future and getting out of fringe markets not core to the business. Uber is also facing push back to its business model, mainly from taxi organizations and just had two senior officers arrested in France. It will be interesting to see both firms move on from this technology and personnel transfer.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Yahoo Trying to Trick Java Users into Switching Search Engines

Do you use Yahoo Search? No? Me neither. But Yahoo is hoping to change that via trickery. The internet giant has teamed up with Oracle to backdoor Yahoo Search as your default search engine when installing Java. The deal was announced by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Wednesday and will come into effect later this month.

According to Oracle, Java is installed on 89% of desktop computers in the US, and billions of devices around the world, including mobile phones and smart TVs, which by proxy could give Yahoo a huge market boost in its effort to expand the reach of its search engine.

Yahoo has been making steps to increase the userbase of its search engine which, while once popular over a decade ago, is now lagging behind Google, and even Microsoft’s Bing, as the internet’s search engine of choice. A deal with Mozilla, making Yahoo Search the default browser for the Firefox internet browser, was greeted by groans, and this new Java deal is set for an equally negative reaction, potentially rendering Yahoo’s efforts counterproductive.

In truth, the stealth defaulting to Yahoo Search is rather transparent: a checked tickbox that can be opted out of. So, if you tend to click ‘next’ without reviewing what you are agreeing with, you deserve to be a Yahoo user. It’s an unethical tactic, using bundling in order to proliferate your product, but one that responsible computer users can easily sidestep.

Thank you Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information.

Gmail Now Officially Supports ‘Undo Send’ Feature.

The convenience of instant, permanent communication via e-mail is a technological marvel but one which has caused an abundance of embarrassing moments. Whether you’ve accidentally sent your spouse’s sister a romantic e-mail or insulted business contacts in a drunken rage, it’s difficult to forget each moment of shame. Thankfully, these cringeworthy escapades can become a thing of the past providing your able to click ‘Undo Send’ within 10 seconds. This time period can also be extended to 30 seconds which helps you to deliberate about the message content. However, this doesn’t help users who are blind drunk at the time and require at least a 24 hour to 5 month period to remember even sending the e-mail.

By default, the ‘Undo Send’ command is disabled unless you are involved in the Google Labs programme. To enable this feature, simply navigate to the cog just below your Google account picture and click settings. Ensure the general tab is active and manually check the ‘Undo Send’ function.

I do find it rather perplexing that it has taken over 6 years for this vital Gmail component to be official supported and presume most power users are already familiar with it using Google Labs. The question remains if the average user will be aware of the added functionality and how often it’s utilized.

Let us know your most embarrassing e-mail blunders and we promise not to judge.

Bing Can Now Tell The Age and Gender of A Person

Microsoft’s Bing can now tell the age of the person by processing the image. It recognizes the face and analyzes them to determine their age. It was initially revealed last month at Microsoft’s BUILD 2015 where they showed off one of their Azure APIs by hosting a website that does exactly what it is supposed to. Microsoft has finally implemented their face-recognition technology in its Bing search engine. It enables the end user to see the gender and age of the person predicted by the search engine.

To get it working for you, just open up Bing and click the “images” tab on the top and search someone. Click on one of the images and then hit the little gray button floating on the right and middle of the picture which says, “#HowOldRobot.” On clicking the button, it will undergo an animation and will finally show the gender and age estimation with a short note which says “Sorry if we didn’t get it quite right, we’re still improving this feature,” which is linked to one of Microsoft’s “Machine Learning FACE APIs” which has parts varying from Verification, Grouping and Identification. This development has been rolled out worldwide.

Thank you Venture Beat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Blacklemag.

Microsoft Reveals How Their Bing Algorithm Determines ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Websites

Microsoft first revealed their interest in mobile-friendly web pages and finding a way to figure out some guidelines for them last year. It seems that the company has been busy since then and finally revealed how they plan on determining which page is good or bad for a mobile device.

If you saw the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag in the brief website description result of pages found by Bing, then you might already know that Microsoft has rolled out its new mobile-friendly detection algorithm. For those of you who do not know, then a web page which is mobile-friendly in Bing’s eyes is marked with a ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag like in the picture below.

So how are the websites marked for their mobile-friendliness? Well, Microsoft looks to have focused its interest into four major areas. The first one is Navigation, where the algorithm checks the size of buttons, links and menus. Nobody likes it when they try to tap on something and accidentally hit a link or button next to it, no?

The second and third marking criteria are Readability and Scrolling, which are assessed by checking the website’s font size and viewport settings. A mobile-friendly website, like all websites, should have its contents clearly visible without having the user to manually zoom and scroll horizontally on the web page to view its contents.

Last, but not least, the fourth requirement is Compatibility. From my point of view, this is the main decisive criteria to take into account. Web developers should try to make an effort to drop all external or third-party dependencies such as flash content and plug-ins and look into fully exploiting HTML5 that not only has a variety of support, but is also cross-platform compatible.

While the criteria mentioned above shaped the algorithm, some polishing was needed as well. Thanks to a lot of feedback received from users, it was determined that they prefer to use mobile-friendly websites in contrast to non-mobile-friendly ones. With this in mind, Microsoft has made a few changes to the website rankings, shifting mobile-friendly websites towards the top as much as possible. However, this does not mean you will be fed a lot of mobile-friendly websites that have no business with what you are looking for.

Microsoft noted that sites which are “highly relevant to the given query that are not yet mobile-friendly will not get penalized”, which essentially means you will still be getting websites with the most relevant information for your search at the top. But if there’s a mobile-friendly page among them, you will have that given to you first.

More information about Bing’s new mobile-friendly algorithm can be found over at Bing Blogs. So how likely are you to switch to Bing as your default search engine?

Image courtesy of Bing Blogs

Will Microsoft Finally Buy HERE Maps?

Windows Phone users will understand the difficulty of choosing between Microsoft’s Bing Maps and Nokia’s HERE Maps when they need to use a good GPS app. While HERE Maps is a great app on its own, Microsoft’s alternative is still based on the HERE technology.

Microsoft first attempted to buy Nokia’s HERE Maps along with the big Nokia deal, but it was too expensive at that time. The Windows maker eventually ended up licensing the HERE technology and integrating it into its Bing Maps.

As time passed, its value went down and compared to the $8.1 billion acquisition Nokia made to buy out Navteq Corp back in 2008, HERE Maps is now estimated at a value of $2.1 billion.

Nokia is said to have reached out to Uber and other companies in hopes to sell its technology and focus on its wireless networking business. However, the more the latter companies and the Redmond giant ponder on what to do, the more opportunity they give other big name companies such as Apple or Google to strike a deal first. Why might they be interested you say? It’s simple.

The HERE technology is significant due to its availability on all major smartphone platforms. Given that Microsoft has previously showed interest into making a profit off the more popular smartphone markets with its own products, it would be wise for it to swoop in and make a deal ahead of everyone else.

Microsoft did not make any official statement regarding its intentions to buy the HERE technology just yet. But truth be told, it would be a shock to see the technology in the hands of some other company since Microsoft’s Bing Maps relies heavily on HERE’s data.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of WPMania

Google Accused of Suppressing Search Results and Stealing Content

Google has been accused of manipulating its search results to promote its own services, to the detriment of other businesses, leading to “real harm to consumers”, and illegally taking content from Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon, a previously unpublished Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report has revealed.

The FTC ended its investigation into Google back in 2012 after the internet giant agreed to concessions, but the investigation’s documents were accidentally handed to The Wall Street Journal, which the newspaper subsequently published. The report claims that Google’s “conduct has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets”.

Yelp, Microsoft’s Bing, and travel websites TripAdvisor and Expedia all complained to the FTC that Google had damaged its business by suppressing its search results, and the FTC found that Google had been scraping data from Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon and used it to rank products while recycling reviews and ratings.

Kent Walker, Google’s General Counsel, responded by reminding that the FTC decided that no action should be taken against Google over its findings, saying,  “Speculation about potential consumer harm turned out to be entirely wrong. Since the investigation closed two years ago, the ways people access information online have only increased, giving consumers more choice than ever before.”

But David Wood, legal counsel to ICOMP, a coalition of online firms campaigning against Google, argues that business has trumped the rule of law, saying, “These revelations demonstrate that this is not about national interests but about competition problems. It is a fascinating insight into Google’s practices. It’s made public things they didn’t want made public and highlighted discrepancies between what they said in public and what they actually did in the US.”

Source: The Guardian

Microsoft’s Bing Correctly Predicted 84% of Oscar Winners

For the Oscars, the World Cup, Super Bowl and many other famous competitions, a lot of people and even animals like to predict the results. That has included octopuses, dogs and more dogs. Well Bing, the search engine from Microsoft, correctly predicted 84% of last night’s Oscar winners.

Bing correctly predicted 20 of 24 winners, including all of the big name awards such as best picture, director, actor, and best actress. Microsoft researcher David Rothschild is in charge of Bing’s predictions, using a prediction model that has been pretty successful before, correctly predicting 21 of 24 Oscar winners last year and 19 of 24 in 2013.

Leading up to the awards, Bing provided its latest predictions on the site for those who asked for them. It appears that Microsoft is making its predictions a regular thing now too, taking to English football results and last year’s World Cup.

Although Bing can’t top Google, it can certainly do a better job than these animals.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft Update Takes Down Bing and Yahoo

The outages of search engines Bing and Yahoo! Search on Friday night has been attributed to a flawed piece of code uploaded to servers by Microsoft. The bad code also took down live.com, Microsoft’s Hotmail redirect, and Office 365 for a short period.

Yahoo’s search facility is now powered by Microsoft Bing, hence why both services were rendered inactive. Microsoft was forced to shut down its online servers while it corrected the error. The Bing search engine is back online, but Yahoo users are still reporting faults.

Source: The Register

Yahoo and Microsoft Compete to Become Apple’s Default Search Engine

As Google Search’s contract with Apple nears its end, Yahoo and Microsoft are both vying to replace it as Safari’s default search engine. Yahoo have already stepped into the vacant spot Google left at Firefox, becoming their search engine of choice, and now another lucrative partnership is due for negotiation when Google’s agreement with apple expires next year.

Safari is the core browser on Apple’s Mac and iOS devices, so as such has a sizeable market penetration, making this a potentially lucrative contract. Both Microsoft and Yahoo have ongoing relationships with Apple, the former providing search results via Bing within the iPhone’s Siri, and the latter providing stock data for iOS.

Source: electronista

Shipping of ZOTAC ZBOX plus with Windows 8.1 and Bing Has Started

Zotac is most known for their great Nvidia graphic cards and barebone mini PCs. Listening to their users feedback, they’re now venturing into ready-to-use system as well.

In a press release today, Zotac announced that the new “Perfect everyday computing mini-PCs with Windows 8.1 with Bing in four different flavours” have started shipping.

“Users requested we include Microsoft Windows with the ZBOX mini-PCs so the system is ready to use right off the shelf,” says Tony Wong, CEO of ZOTAC International. “We’ve been listening and thanks to Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8.1 with Bing, we’re able to give buyers the full Windows experience in a mini-PC form factor at an excellent value.”

The quartet of ZOTAC ZBOX Plus mini-PCs will ship with 2GB of DDR3 memory and Windows 8.1 with Bing x64 pre-installed on a 64GB SSD.

The ZOTAC ZBOX C-series nano Plus mini-PCs provide silent PC aficionados with snappy performance and noiseless passive cooling in Intel and AMD flavors. The ZBOX CI320 nano combines the performance and energy efficiency of a quad-core Intel Celeron N2930 processor while the ZBOX CA320 nano takes advantage of a quad-core AMD A6-1450 APU with Radeon HD 8250 graphics.

ZOTAC ZBOX BI320 and ID18 mini-PCs deliver a good computing experience for daily web browsing and productivity tasks with dual-core Intel Celeron processors and Intel HD Graphics. A classic ZOTAC ZBOX chassis provides the ZBOX BI320 and ID18 with vast external expansion and flexible placement capabilities.

Availability has started at the different retailers, but most are estimating the arrival in 1-2 days. The cheapest price for the four devices as of writing is €124, €165,  €120 and $102 respectively.

Thank you Zotac for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Zotac

Google Goes Down For 30 Minutes, Desktop Users Like Lost Sheep

On July 4th (yesterday) at approximately 10:30am GMT Google’s search engine went down for desktop users all over the world. The Google desktop search engine pages greeted stranded desktop users with a 500 Error Page with the usual “The server encountered an error and could not complete your request” error message. Mobile users were still able to access search engine services as this was only an issue for desktop search engine users, other Google services were not affected either. The temporary outage resulted in a mass of tweets and Facebook posts relating to Google’s rare downtime. For half an hour of the day poor Google users were forced to use Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to find out the answer to their urgent question “why is Google down?”. According to downdetector.com the outage was fixed by 11am.

Source: ITPro

Image courtesy of SiliconAngle

Bing Rewards App for Windows Phone Launched, 5 Months after iOS and Android

Latest news from Microsoft point to having its Bing Rewards app being released (finally) for Windows Phone, having it come out for its own handset operating system almost 5 months after the release on Android and iOS.

The company’s reward program has been around since 2010, having it be launched as an incentive to increase Microsoft’s share in the search engine market. For who is unaware, the tool is designed to reward users working with Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Credits are earned over time with usage which users can then trade in for some goods Microsoft is offering.

The Windows Phone version of the application features basically the same functions as the iOS and Android counterparts, having the only advantage be in the operating system at hand. While the iOS and Android versions need to be accessed by tapping on the application icon, Windows Phone lets you pin it as a tile on the home screen and allows you to quickly monitor your credit.

In terms of goods offered, Microsoft appears to have gift cards, items on Amazon.com, Starbucks discounts, Xbox goodies, Fandango and others. Users who feel more humanitarian can also opt in to donate their credits to a local school or charity.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TheNextWeb

Will Microsoft Sell Xbox or Bing? Microsoft’s CEO Responds

Will Microsoft sell the Xbox or Bing divisions? It has been a hot topic of speculation for as long as I can remember, particularly with regards to the Xbox division where the discussion over whether it is profitable or not underpins the “sell or keep” debate. Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella responded to such speculation at Microsoft’s Code Conference in California and unsurprisingly he rubbished such speculation stating that Xbox and Bing are essential to Microsoft’s long term strategy and will be sticking around for the long-haul.

Nadella praised the success of Microsoft’s Bing which now has 30% of the search market thanks to its integration into many Microsoft products like Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1’s Cortana service and so on. Microsoft are also rumoured to have plans to launch Cortana onto the tablet and PC markets in the near future which could further spread the use of Bing searches. With regards to the Xbox division Nadella claimed Microsoft will not be changing anything about the Xbox division, suggesting it is business as usual.

“I have no intent to do anything different with Xbox than we are doing today,” Stated Nadella.

Furthermore, Satya Nadella went on to state software would be at the heart of future Microsoft innovation suggesting Bing will be an integral part of that.

“It is the thing that is really going to power all the experiences on all the devices today and tomorrow. In order to be in the hunt for those experiences, and get it right, you do need to from time to time build devices, so you don’t leave anything to chance,”

The rumours about the sale of the Xbox and Bing divisions were fuelled by apparent dissent among investors who wanted to see Microsoft sell off certain divisions after Steve Ballmer’s departure. Some investors have suggested Microsoft would be better off focusing on Windows and Office but Microsoft’s current CEO seems to think otherwise. Speculation even suggested that one of the potential CEO candidates before Satya Nadella was appointed, Stephen Elop, was planning to sell Xbox and Bing if he got the job. Speculation is just speculation it seems.

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of eTeknix

Microsoft Denies Allegations That It Censors Bing Outside China

Microsoft has been faced with some pretty serious allegations from cyber-censorship monitoring group Greatfire.org. They claim that Microsoft is deploying Chinese censorship on a “global scale” based on earlier research conducted by the Guardian newspaper in the UK. While Microsoft admit to censoring Bing search results in China, because they legally have to just like Google, Yahoo and others have to, they strongly deny censoring their Chinese Bing site outside of China.

“We can emphatically confirm that they are not, Bing search results outside of China are not subject to and are not modified in any way based on Chinese law.” Said Stefan Weitz, Bing Senior Director.

On the other hand Greatfire.org stated that, based on their findings:

“We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the United States to remove negative news and information about China….And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world.”

The reason this has been so controversial is that we’ve come to expect all companies to censor certain things inside China but we don’t expect those same censorship practices to be applied at a global level. What are your thoughts on the possibility of Bing censoring their Chinese site for users outside of China?

Image courtesy of WinRumors

Microsoft Adds Bitcoin Currency Conversion To Bing Search Engine

The controversial Bitcoin story takes another turn as software giant, Microsoft, adds Bitcoin currency conversion support to its Bing search engine. Bing is partnering up with Coinbase to provide currency conversion capabilities in Bing that allow you to convert major fiat currencies to and from Bitcoin. So if you’re interested in seeing the (currently declining) value of your Bitcoin portfolio then you can now do so with the help of Bing.

On a related note we wonder how long it will be before Google makes a similar move. I use Google all the time for converting prices between USD, GBP and Euros but with more and more retailers starting to accept Bitcoins it might start to make sense for Google to offer similar functionality.

Image and information courtesy of Engadget

Who Is Next Inline For Microsoft’s Top Job?

Microsoft set to announce new CEO early 2014

After Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his plan to step down from the top job a couple of months ago speculation has been ripe about who would take over the top job. Many names have been names been been tossed up in the air with two of those being Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft’s VP of cloud-and-enterprise group Satya Nadella. However Mulally has since indicated that he plans to stay on at Ford and remain in Detroit. Whoever the new CEO turns out to be (Microsoft plans to announce who gets the top job in the early stages of 2014) they will have their hands full.

The new CEO will have to steer the ship into a new age, with tablets and smart phones being more prominent these day than the trusty old PC. Other issues to be dealt with at Microsoft will be what to do with Bing and also the Xbox. Although the Xbox is a a leading brand in a huge growth area, the way that the latest console was handled and the debacle and backlash that was felt by Microsoft when it was first released that the Xbox would need to be connected to the internet 24/7 and the issue with the console not being able to play second hand games. These issues have since been fixed since the launch of the new Xbox One, however the new CEO may look into handling the Xbox differently. Bing is also a hot topic within Microsoft, with last year the online service division were Bing resides losing $1.3 billion. This is a lot better then the year before that with the online services division losing $8.1 billion. However things don’t look to bad for Bing with Microsoft integrating Bing’s search technology into all it’s new devices, it’s just whether users will use Bing with more popular search engines like Google being users first choice for a search engine.

However the company is still in relatively good shape with it’s “bread and butter” of Windows and Office still paying the bills, it loooks more like the new CEO’s task will be one of streamlining a company that many have said is too big to compete with slicker and faster moving companies born out of the internet era. This could mean selling off Bing and Xbox and focusing again on their “bread and butter” business model. What do you think, should Microsoft’s new CEO shake things up a little or keep the ship sailing the same course? We’ll keep you updated with more information when it becomes available.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald.

Microsoft Looking Forward To Bing’s Uprising Next Year

 

Bing has always been something to be criticized when it comes to Microsoft. The internet search engine has been losing money for years, mostly because Microsoft has been building up a massive datacenter infrastructure behind it.

Statistics show that last year, Bing and associated online services cost Microsoft about $1.5 billion. Even for a company the size of Microsoft that is not chump-change. However, those losses were not due to lack of revenue, but a massive, 6 year development and investment cycle.

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer, Dave O’Hara, stated in a analyst meeting that Microsoft’s large-scale build out of infrastructure and algorithm development for Bing is complete. Going forward, improvements will be “incremental” since Microsoft believes it now has full capacity to operate Bing.

With that shift in expenses, that means Bing is in a position to start returning on that investment and make Microsoft from money. Since Bing has been integrated into more services and devices, Microsoft may see this strategy play out well. Bing is not simply a search engine, it is fully integrated with Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows Phone.

O’Hara also said that Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant technology for Windows Phone, will be making a debut with the update to Windows Phone 8.1 next year. Just when you thought Microsoft might be setting cruise control on things, it looks like they are about to stomp on the accelerator hard.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Bing

Microsoft Adds Pre-Rendering To Bing Searches On IE11

We already explained a few weeks ago how Microsoft wanted to make Internet Explorer 11 the fastest internet browser, it claimed to be 30% faster than any other browser on Windows 7. Now we have learned that part of that faster package will involve pre-rendered searches on Microsoft’s Bing search engine when using Internet Explorer 11.

What this means is when you’re using Bing and you start to type something Bing will intelligently predict what to pre-render (normally the top search results given what you’ve typed at that current point). The result is near instant page loading when using Bing with IE11. Microsoft claims to be doing this in a streamlined way that prevents battery life on mobile devices being eaten up. Microsoft’s blog post explains it all in more detail:

“Today we are introducing an improvement available for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) that helps you accomplish your search tasks even faster. The next time you perform a search in Bing using IE11, you’ll notice that when you click on the top result, the associated page is almost instantly rendered. To achieve this, we leverage IE11’s pre-render tag to automatically download and render the top result page in the background – it does this in a streamlined fashion taking care to not waste your bandwidth and battery life.

With pre-rendering, you can now enjoy a faster end-to-end search experience, whether you are trying to navigate to a popular web destination (e.g. “New York Times”) or looking for movie reviews (e.g. “Django Unchained reviews”). Because half of people click on the first result on the search results page, pre-rendering that page is an important addition in our quest to improve the overall task completion time.”

Image courtesy of eTeknix via Bing

Microsoft Attacks Google, Says It Does Anything To Monetise Consumer Data

Image Credit -www.junkaria.com

Microsoft has been on a bit of an offensive recently making numerous adverts that attacked Apple for its Siri Technology and Google for its apparently “rubbish” Google Docs service. Now Microsoft have gone one step further by attacking Google for being a corporation that is apparently only driven by monetising its users data, at the expense of their privacy.

The harsh words were spoken by Microsoft Bing’s Senior Director Stefan Weitz who wrote a lengthy post about Google’s I/O conference. He made it clear that the company wants to monetise everything.

“They will be paying more attention to your location, analyzing your photos and turning them into animated gifs and they’d like some credit for their innovations while rarely mentioning that all this personal data collection gives them more opportunities to show you ads”

Naturally Weitz used this as an opportunity to praise Bing and Microsoft for protecting user data properly. Quite humorously he went on to describe Google as being like someone who doesn’t wear deodorant, clearly implying that Google’s policies stink.

“You know, for some folks – the bargain they strike with Google is fine. Just like personal space in an elevator, people have varying degrees of tolerance for how close another person gets to them, and varying degrees of comfort when that person is actually a corporation not wearing deodorant,”

All this is part of Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign which can be found here. Microsoft is attacking Google for violating privacy, and indeed Google has some very questionable practices. In comparison to Microsoft they give away and collect a lot of information for the purposes of increasing ad and app revenues.

The battle between these two tech giants is likely to rage on for some time yet, what are your thoughts on this? Does Microsoft have a point about Google’s (lack of) data protection and privacy policies? Or is this just a bitter feud between two rival companies?

Source, Via

Microsoft Working On “Bing Live Chat” Instant Messaging App

Instant messaging Apps are becoming common place among big companies these days and it seems nearly every company has one. Yahoo has had one for ages, Google is developing “Babel” aka Google Hangouts and now Microsoft is reportedly working on an instant messaging application for its Bing search engine. This new chat service, which is currently called “Bing Live Chat”, is in beta and would allow users to talk to each other within the browser.

The service would allow users searching for the same keywords to chat straight from their browser to others, using their Microsoft accounts. This means that if you want to use the instant messaging feature you will be required to log into your Microsoft account every time, or if you don’t have one then you would be required to make one to use it.

It is not yet known when Microsoft plans to release this new feature, or if they even plan to release it at all. What are your thoughts on “Bing Live chat”? Is there any use for it or is it a feature with a lack of utility?

Source, Via