A week after previewing the revamped Bing, Microsoft has released the latest version of its search engine to people in the U.S. Head over to Bing.com/new to test out the new social features as well as annoy your friends with questions in the process. It doesn’t have all of the new bells and whistles announced last week, and you can only sign in with a Facebook or Windows Live account — though Quora, LinkedIn, and Twitter support should be coming soon.
New Bing has a gray sidebar on the right that, once you login with Facebook, shows all the new social features. When you search a topic, new Bing will list friends who might be able to answer your question and help with the search based on whether they’ve “liked” or mentioned something with that keyword in it. It even shows any relevant images they’ve posted.
You can then post a question directly to Facebook or specific friends in the know from the sidebar. If you find something useful while searching or want to answer a buddy’s question with a link, you can post the URL directly to Facebook from the sidebar. Relevant Twitter results from random people are also sometimes shown at the bottom of the box under “People Who Know”.
Most of my test searches showed no “Search With Friends” results, even for things I know my friends love and post about often such as cats, cheese, Dollywood, robots, or the Maker Faire.
Earlier this year when rival company Google first attempt to mashup your social graph and search habits via “Search Plus Your World,” the results seemed invasive and annoying. Second-place Bing seems to have learned a bit from Google’s stumbles, cordoning off the social element on the far right side of your screen.
However, even if the social/search feature was more helpful, I’m not sure there’s a big need for this kind of integration. Most people have mastered searching for things themselves, or posing questions to Facebook. If they haven’t, I usually send them to lmgtfy.com.