Google and Yahoo had better watch their backs.
Microsoft unveiled the latest innovations to its Bing search engine at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, designed to drive faster and simpler consumer search.
For Bing, it's an ambitious foray into a lucrative business dominated by Google.
For Hollywood, it could represent a better consumer experience in search, which could ultimately mean more purchases of entertainment products.
The announcement came at a somewhat awkward event that mixed titans of new media like Twitter cofounder Biz Stone with Hollywood heavyweights including director Kathryn Bigelow and Ryan Seacrest.
Microsoft senior VP Yusuf Mehdi unveiled Bing as a newly-configured search engine for movies, gaming, music and TV, with the last two areas adding the most interesting new searsch functions.
Thanks to Microsoft's Zune division and deals with major music labels, Bing now provides full-song streaming, allowing users to listen to any of the 5 million songs in the Zune music library in their entirety once, after which a 30 second preview will be available.
With research showing that over 70% of people search for lyrics online, Microsoft partnered with LyricFind to offer lyrics to most songs, as well as the option to buy individual tracks on iTunes, AmazonMP3 or Zune.
On the TV side, Bing has struck deals with Hulu, CBS and Viacom to offer the most comprehensive TV collection online, with thousands of episodes from over 1500 shows including plenty of HD content. Mehdi said that 30% of people watch a full episode of TV on their laptop. In the next few weeks, Bing will provide TV listings to help you plan what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.
Bing presents a different way to search for content with the aim of taking away search business from Google. The company is a big promoter of the visual search, believing that the human eye is much more responsive to photos than text.
Will Bing become Hollywood's search engine? Probably not. But the company is making great strides in helping the entertainment industry deliver its content to consumers, as the latest updates will help people find content faster and use it easier. With the world and more specifically, the world wide web constantly changing, the goal is to allow consumers to harness the power of the Internet at their fingertips. It won't be easy overtaking Google and Yahoo but Bing is well on its way.
Following the press conference, Mehdi and "American Idol" host Seacrest moderated a panel including cofounder Biz Stone, Oscar and Grammy-winning musician T Bone Burnett, "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner, "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips, actor and HitRecord.org's Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Microsoft Games VP Phil Spencer (see photo).
Meanwhile, Drake and DJ Cassidy performed at an after party at Boa.