When you put 20,000 Microsoft employees together in a baseball stadium and show them demos of an unannounced version of the company’s new Bing search engine, it’s bound to leak out eventually, but Microsoft probably didn’t think it would wind up all over Twitter within hours.
However, that’s just what happened. According to tweets coming from employees attending Thursday’s Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) annual employee meeting at Safeco Field in Seattle, an update to the search engine called “Bing 2.0” is scheduled to be announced possibly as early as next Monday, September 14.
According to several employee tweets, Bing 2.0 will feature the integration of Microsoft’s Silverlight streaming media technology with maps and photos.
“BING 2.0 terrific !! watch out guys ! bing + silverlight in maps = amazing !! goodbye google,” read a tweet from one obviously impressed employee.
“Bing 2.0, out this month, has some exciting new features. Imagine seeing maps plus pics from the neighborhood of a restaurant to try,” read another.
It’s unclear when Bing 2.0 will be officially announced, since Microsoft has not even discussed an update to the search engine. The company just launched it in late May.
Some tweets said that could come as early as next week, while others predicted sometime this month. Others say sometime this fall which, incidentally, begins in late September.
A Microsoft spokesperson was generally non-committal.
“We’re very excited about some of the new Bing features set to roll out over the next few months, but have nothing to announce today,” the spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.
One analyst said that while it’s necessary for Microsoft to continue to evolve Bing, he wonders if giving Bing version numbers is the right way to succeed against competitors, especially Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
“I do question why they need to call it the next version,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, told InternetNews.com. “Google adds new features but they don’t give it a revision number.”
In late July, Microsoft inked a deal with Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) to take on the number two player’s search duties in exchange for a share of the advertising revenues.
Bing has been well received by some users since its launch but it still hasn’t begun any kind of serious onslaught against market leader Google. CEO Steve Ballmer has also said he is willing to spend as much as five to 10 percent of Microsoft’s operating income over the next five years to make Bing successful.
Meanwhile, Microsoft shipped Silverlight 3.0 on July 10. Silverlight 3 adds major media enhancements, including H.264 video support as well as 3D support and GPU hardware acceleration. It will also run applications outside a browser, including on mobile devices.