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Bing to revamp format, boosting social search results

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Redmond, Wash.—Microsoft Corp. plans to launch a major revision of its Bing search engine that includes a new three-column format and more social components in a separate pane intended to augment search queries.

To take effect over the next few weeks, the new format will feature a deeper integration with Facebook results in a right-hand "social sidebar," including comments by Facebook friends on particular search queries, according to the Bing blog. Microsoft owns a minority share in Facebook Inc. The sidebar also will pull in relevant feeds from Twitter and Google+, with plans to add other social streams in the future.

Regular search queries will appear in a left-hand column, with a new center pane featuring "snapshot" views about those queries, with such things as photos, maps, reviews or product prices.

While the Bing algorithm also drives search on the Yahoo browser in the U.S. and Canada, the new format is not expected to appear on Yahoo, which controls the user experience.

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