RealTime IT News

Bing Bags Twitter

Microsoft's Qi Lu
Microsoft's Qi Lu speaks at the Web 2.0 Summit
Photo: David Needle
SAN FRANCISCO -- In a major coup for Microsoft's upstart Bing search service, the company announced a deal with Twitter that will let users pull in real-time tweets from the popular microblogging service. The feature goes live today and is available at bing.com/twitter.

The announcement was made here at the Web 2.0 Summit by Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) vice president of online services, Qi Lu, who heads their search efforts.

Not to be outdone, the Web's top search player, Google, announced its own agreement with Twitter later today, though it has yet to officially launch its integration with the microblogging service.

For his company, Lu put the deal in the context of "Bing Wave 2" -- the next set of features the company is planning to add to the search engine. He added that he did not know all the terms of deal nor how long the agreement lasts.

The news come at time when Twitter has established itself as a popular source for real-time, albeit short-form, comments and news from a wide cross section of people on virtually any topic of the day.

While Twitter has achieved substantial private investment, it has not laid out a clear revenue strategy while building its user base and refining the service.

Lu said Twitter is "a fantastic partner." He also said Microsoft is working on a similar deal with Facebook -- in which Microsoft is a stakeholder -- that will bring all the public data posts to Bing users.

The Facebook agreement is not quite ready to go live yet, he added.

In a demo of its new work with Twitter, Microsoft showed how the most recent Twitter results on a topic will be displayed by default. Users can also click on a "Best Match" button in Bing that leverages Microsoft's analysis of the content to improve results, with an eye to pushing the most relevant results up higher.

A "de-duping" feature collapses duplicate results.

Lu said Bing focuses on quality of results, relevancy and popularity, measuring whether a tweet is re-tweeted, for example.

"Twitter is really an emerging communications platform," said Lu. "The salient features are still evolving, but you can see a vibrancy there like never before."

Tapping the cloud and "seeing Bit.ly"

Bing users can also view the hottest topics trending on Twitter, clicking on various buzzwords as they appear in the Twitter "cloud" to see a set of related tweets.

Included in Lu's demo today of Bing's Twitter cloud were subjects like popular movies ("Paranormal" -- a reference to the film "Paranormal Activity"), sports ("Yankees") and technology ("Windows 7," due for its commercial launch tomorrow).

"We can tell what's 'buzzy' and trendy in the Twittersphere," he said.

Lu drew applause for another feature that lets users see the ultimate destination for links truncated through link-shortening service bit.ly before they click through.

Update adds information on Google's separate deal with Twitter.