Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.
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December 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Not Miley Cyrus.
Though the twerking singer was Bing’s most-searched celeb in Australia and Canada, she was beaten out in the U.S. by Beyonce and only managed to come in ninth on the U.S. list.
Lee, who helped develop Microsoft’s MSN Internet search technology, left the company in 2005 to run Google’s operations in China, prompting a lawsuit from Microsoft, which contended Lee’s job would violate a noncompete agreement. Google countersued and the companies later reached a settlement.
November 19, 2013 at 2:21 PM
A couple of quick items this afternoon:
The Xbox One, which will hit store shelves Friday, will feature more natural voice-search capabilities, thanks to the combination of Bing search and Kinect voice- and motion-sensing technologies.
October 30, 2013 at 12:53 PM
[This post is being updated throughout the day.]
Is the Bing-Yahoo partnership like a good marriage that sometimes hits rough spots? Or is it more like a marriage in which at least one of the partners is seeking a divorce?
The partnership between Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo was one of the topics of conversation during the Bing Ads Next Summit, a day-long event on the Microsoft campus in which the Bing Ads team is talking with online and search marketing execs and press about its accomplishments and plans for the next year.
September 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Microsoft has been pushing Bing heavily lately, from touting the more powerful search experience it provides in the upcoming Windows 8.1 to promoting it as a platform for developers.
Now, Bing is getting a new look too.
Microsoft is giving Bing a new logo and a page redesign.
The new logo, according to Microsoft, is designed to reflect “Bing’s increasingly important role as a service layer across Microsoft.”
The redesign includes a cleaner, two-column format; quick information in the second column that combines factual information as well as social media updates; and a feature the company is calling “Page Zero,” which pulls up relevant information as the user types, before a search results page comes up.
More information on the new-look Bing is here.
September 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM
[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Sept. 14, 2013.]
MSN is cutting a substantial number of its freelancers, contractors and vendors — all apparently in a move away from providing original content as Microsoft focuses on becoming a devices and services company.
Microsoft declined to say how many people will lose their jobs.
Some who have been affected estimated that at least 100 people working for the MSN Entertainment channel have been cut. Other cuts reportedly range across MSN’s channels, including News and Money.
“Bloggers, freelance writers, producers, as well as editors are being let go left and right,” said one person affected by the cuts.
Full-time Microsoft employees do not appear to be affected. But MSN has many contractors, vendors and freelancers who provide, edit or produce much of the news portal’s content.
Microsoft declined to say how many full-time employees, and how many contractors, work at MSN.
The reduction comes about a year after Microsoft had saidit was boosting its support for news after the company’s breakup with NBC over their MSNBC.com joint venture.
Microsoft said earlier this week the cuts are part of the larger companywide reorganization announced in July intended to transform the software company into one that provides devices and services.
MSN gets about 480 million unique visitors worldwide a month — about 115 million of them in the U.S. — and had been in the same perennial money-losing Online Services division as Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. That division lost $1.28 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30.
Under the sweeping reorganization, MSN and Bing are still in the same division — now called Applications and Services — along with Office and Skype. The division is charged with producing apps and services related to productivity, communication and search.
In recent months, the company has seemed to be lavishing far more attention on Bing than MSN, touting it as a platform for developers, and as a way to power searches across a range of devices and services with the upcoming Windows 8.1.
[Continue reading the story here.]
August 21, 2013 at 2:09 PM
I wrote earlier this week about Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist at Microsoft who’s been trying to figure out ways to make Bing easier to use and to wean people off of automatically going to Google for their searches.
Today, Microsoft announced the launch of Bing for Schools, one of the projects Wallaert has been working on.
August 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM
[In case you missed it, this story ran in the print edition of The Seattle Times on Aug. 18, 2013.]
Matt Wallaert is not a software engineer. Nor is he a programmer or developer.
Still, it’s not unusual for him to get calls regularly from tech companies looking to recruit him.
Wallaert is a social scientist — a behavioral scientist who has done undergraduate and graduate work in psychology.
Eight months ago, Wallaert, who also has experience at tech startups, began working at Microsoft with the Bing team, figuring out ways to make it easier for Bing users to make decisions and take actions, as well as ways to wean people off the habit of automatically going to Google for their Web searches.
While the idea of social scientists working at tech companies is not new, “There’s been a shift in the industry,” Wallaert believes. “They used to shuffle these people into marketing: ‘How do we get them to help sell us more things?’ Now, they’ve shifted us into product: ‘How do we actually make the thing better.’ ”
Wallaert’s experience is echoed by some other social scientists at Microsoft and at other tech firms that are seeing increased interest in the skills social scientists offer, especially with the rising importance of social networking and big data to businesses.
Many agree their roles have become more integrated with specific product groups within their companies, rather than segregated to marketing or research.
In the past few years, with the rise of social computing and social media, tech companies have come to understand that, “It’s not enough to understand the individual user,” said Donald Farmer, a Seattle-based vice president of product management at QlikTech, a software company. “You have to understand them in a social context.”
“There really is no business any more that sells directly to one consumer,” he said. “Every enterprise is now a social enterprise.”
Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research labs in Cambridge, Mass. and in New York City, saw this change coming about six years ago. She pitched the idea to Microsoft of opening up a research lab specifically staffed with social scientists.
Social science research forms a substantial part of the work of the New England and New York labs, which opened in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Those labs take an interdisciplinary approach, uniting subjects such as machine learning and behavioral sciences.
A number of those researchers are studying some aspect of social networking.
“As technology becomes the mediator of our social interactions, it’s essential that research in technology incorporate deep research in social science,” Chayes said. “Otherwise, we design systems that don’t do what we would like them to do for people or don’t do what people would like.”
Microsoft’s devices and services, for example, shouldn’t be thought of strictly as only devices or services. Many of them have social components as well.
“Xbox is a social site,” Chayes said. “Skype is a social site.”
[Continue reading the story here.]
July 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM
One of the features of Windows 8.1 that the Microsoft folks tout the most is Smart Search, the ability to search a user’s local files, cloud-based files, apps and the Web all at once.
Now Microsoft is revealing that the Smart Search feature will also include ads.
June 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Apple announced its upcoming iOS 7 mobile operating system this morning at its Worldwide Developer Conference and one interesting tidbit came out: In iOS 7, Siri will be using Bing for its Web searches.
With iOS 7, Siri will have integrated Web search built in for the first time. In previous versions, Siri surfaced results from the default search engine chosen by the user (whether that be Google, Bing or Yahoo.)
Given the rapid rise of Google’s Android as the major competitor to Apple’s mobile operating system, perhaps it’s not surprising that Apple turned to Microsoft as a bulwark against Google’s expanding user base. Both Apple and Microsoft have increasingly focused on Google as their top competitor/nemesis.
June 6, 2013 at 9:53 AM
The Bing Translator app, which translates in more than 40 languages, is now available in the Windows Store, Microsoft said today.
The app can translate via use of a device’s camera, or through typed or scanned text. It also has text-to-speech and can also be used offline, according to Microsoft.