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Microsoft adds new features to its Bing search engine

14 December 2017, 04:45 | Hattie Nash

Above A screenshot shows the acronyms feature in Microsoft

Above A screenshot shows the acronyms feature in Microsoft

To this end Microsoft still sees Bing as a viable offering and has rolled out new AI features including Intelligent Search, Intelligent Image Search and Conversational Search.

With the rise of fake news and misinformation, one of Bing's main changes is being smarter about the information it displays and becoming more conversational and nuanced.

"Today, we're expanding this set of AI-powered tools by bringing Cortana to the Outlook mobile app to help users stay on top of their day", Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the Office team, wrote in a company blog post.

Microsoft also showed off a private preview for a new AI-powered health bot project that the tech giant is working on. Apart from that, Outlook is getting updated with Cortana and a preview of Microsoft Whiteboard is coming to Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft's leveraging of its AI research to enhance the reliability of Bing forms part of its strategy to better challenge Google's dominant position as the world's number one search engine.

Bing's new updates are created to boost confidence in users that search results are correct and that they need not click on multiple links to validate the information themselves. Essentially, this boils down to a mix of neural network magic to verify answers and surface more information from multiple sources on the initial search page.

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Reddit is a unique asset on the Internet, a community filled with millions of users and billions of page views but if you have ever used the site, you will know that searching for content is almost impossible. For questions that have multiple answers, Bing will present the information in a carousel. With sub-reddit naming not always following the typical SEO friendly conventions and questions being buried in the 2.3 million daily comments, finding an answer to your question can be almost impossible. The productivity suite has been updated with a ton of features including Insights in Excel-a new service that is claimed to automatically highlight patterns from the data making it easier to analyse.

Bing Image Search uses computer vision and object recognition to allow users to shop for similar items across the web.

Microsoft has been baking AI and machine learning capabilities, from document translation to intelligent threat detection, into Office 365, which now has more than 120 million commercial users.

Microsoft tapped Reddit, which has a huge library of content produced from 330 million users - many of whom are constantly debating various topics.

Microsoft also plans to push what it calls 'skills chaining, ' where if Cortana is used to book tickets to an event, the assistant will encourage you to add it to your Calendar, too.

New features for Cortana include the ability for the digital assistant to sort and summarize important emails across both Gmail and Outlook accounts.

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