Being able to complete tasks quickly, often without leaving Bing, is a big theme for Microsoft. It sees it as a way to differentiate itself from Google, which tends to emphasize the speed and accuracy of its results, but is also adding more "in search" capabilities.
A new version of Bing Image search gets a new layout and adds infinite scrolling -- or a page that updates constantly with images as users scroll down -- a feature lifted from Google Image search.
A new interface for image search has "smart tabs" across the top of the results page. For example, a search for "Casablanca" has a tab that will show only image results for Casablanca lilies, another that shows Casablanca wedding dresses and another for Casablanca the city.
Derrick Connell, general manager for the Bing Product Management Group, showed other improvements in areas like destination search and entertainment. For example, a user who searches for a basketball game can now view available seats on a plan of the stadium, see what the view is like from a seat and buy a ticket, all from within Bing.
The changes, described in the Bing blog, are all part of the Bing "Fall release" and are all being rolled out starting today. Many of them have to do with the user interface and where and how information is displayed on the screen.
"The science behind placement of data is a big differentiator, we believe," Nadella said, adding that Microsoft is investing a good deal of its research dollars in visual placement.
Microsoft has its work cut out for it though. Google accounted for 66.3 percent of U.S. searches in October, according to comScore. And while Microsoft has made some gains, its close partner, Yahoo, has been watching its share decline.
All three vendors are adding features almost every week to help them keep hold of their users. Last week, Google launched a real-time service that presents a constantly updated stream of results from Facebook, Twitter and other sources.
The companies are also fighting in the courts. Microsoft joined a group this week that is trying to stop Google from buying ITA Software, which makes the technology used by Microsoft and other Google rivals to provide air travel search results. The competitors complain the $700 million deal would give Google too much control in that market.
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