Microsoft’s Bing search engine gets social-media makeover

In a bid to pull more users away from rival Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it is rolling out the most significant revamp of Bing since its search engine’s 2009 launch.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be introducing a brand new way to search designed to help you take action and interact with friends and experts without compromising the core search experience,” Microsoft’s Bing Team said in a blog post.

Leveraging its relationship with Facebook, Microsoft said the new features will personalize the search experience to make it more relevant to users.

The ability to share just about everything in real time through digital connections “presents an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how search should work,” the post said.

The new format will incorporate three columns: search results on the far left, a “snapshot” of related services in the center and Facebook connections on the far right.

The snapshot column is designed to help users take actions such as making reservations, buying tickets and the like, integrating “industry-leading companies like OpenTable, FanSnap and others,” Bing said.

The friend column integrates what many users do in a separate tab on Facebook or Twitter: It enables users to post a question to get input from members of their Facebook network while doing a search.

“You can ‘tag’ friends Bing suggests might know about the topic,” Bing said. And the friends can reply on either Facebook or Bing.

Bing will also suggest other “influential” connections that it finds on sites such as Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, LinkedIn and Google+.