[Microsoft's Bing + x(Wolfram|Alpha)] > Google?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Microsoft’s search engine Bing will soon feature results from the innovative Wolfram|Alpha web service that attempts to compute answers to searchers’ questions, rather than link to web pages.

Bing and Wolfram announced Wednesday that Microsoft would begin using Wolfram Alpha’s service to power certain queries about math, health and nutrition as part of Bing’s attempt to differentiate itself from Google, which still controls 70 percent of the search market.

That’s what Bill Gates is betting after checking out the answers from Wolfram’s computational search engine. Evidently, Gates questioned whether the search engine from math genius Stephen Wolfram could actually do math right, and once satisfied, signed a deal to pay Wolfram|Alpha for answers.

So for instance, Bing users who want to compare the nutritional value of a banana versus an orange will get a computed answer piped in from Wolfram|Alpha. Wolfram|Alpha will also be there for users who want the search box to be a very functional calculator or find some computable health information.

Microsoft’s decision to try out some of Wolfram|Alpha’s answers is yet another step in an industry-wide march towards returning more than just links as the answer to most search query. Search engines now routinely blend in maps, music, videos and reviews, in order to give better results to user queries.

Wolfram|Alpha also just released a $50 iPhone app that has proven unexpectedly popular. Microsoft is the first commercial user of the company’s API.

Integration with a major search engine is a smart move for Wolfram|Alpha, given the narrow, but occasionally impressive and useful answers it returns. Don’t be surprised if this leads to an acquisition down the road, if Bing finds that users are drawn to what Epicenter has called a search engine for Rain Man.

source: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/11/microsofts-bing-xwolframalpha-google/


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