Formally code-named "Kumo," the new search tool will replace Microsoft's Live Search. It will eventually roll out over the next few days as a beta in the UK, and go worldwide by 3 June, Microsoft said.
Microsoft is the latest to attempt to innovate in the search market, following the launch of Wolfram Alpha last week. The launch of Bing will likely lead pundits to ponder if Bing will be the one to knock Google off its perch, but Microsoft has said it's actually gunning for second place - the spot currently held by former acquisition target Yahoo.
Microsoft noted its latest weapon in the battle with Google wasn’t a fully featured release, but just a beta. It said the “full proposition” would continue to be developed over the next six to 12 months in London, at Microsoft’s new Search Technology Centre which employs about 60 people.
Paul Stoddart, UK search lead at Microsoft, said in a statement: “Many people believe Search today is a great tool, but as the internet continues to develop and grow then the search category requires constant innovation to allow consumers to make sense of the web.”
That said, Bing does of course offer new features above Live Search. Bing includes more relevant information on the search results page itself, and sorts them into categories. It also includes partnerships with shopping and travel sites, including recent acquisition comparison site Ciao, Microsoft said.
The main page is the very opposite of Google’s stark search engine. Bing features massive photo backdrops targeted by geography and even the latest news.
In what could be seen as a dig at leading rival Google, Stoddart said: “The major search engines were developed over a decade ago and we believe the category is still in its infancy."
"In 1997, there were only 100,000 websites compared with over 160 million worldwide today, so it’s important to challenge and evolve the search market and to make it as easy and relevant as possible for today’s consumers," he added. "There is much more that people can and should expect from their search service.”
Speaking at a conference in California, Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer said: "We want to do better."
Ballmer went on to explain why the odd name Bing was chosen. "The name is short, it's easy to say, it works globally."