Microsoft is opening a new front in the search engine wars with a Bing-powered Website widget that adds supplemental information to Web content.
The new Bing Knowledge widget is based on Bing Snapshots, "modules that intelligently serve up information about key 'entities' (like people, places, TV shows)," wrote Microsoft's Steve Wiens in a blog post announcing the release. "Now you can augment your own Website or blog with that same entity data using the new Bing Knowledge widget," he added.
Making its debut in May 2012, Bing Snapshot culls information on entities from online resources and social media to present users with an in-context summary of the search term and related entries. Snapshot is based on Satori, an internal, continually evolving indexing-software platform.
Richard Qian, head of the Bing Index team, said the technology "is designed to develop deep understanding of the world around us, not only as a collection of entities (people, places and things) but also the relationships between those entities." He added that his team called "this technology Satori, which means understanding in Japanese."
Widgets are code snippets that Webmasters can add to Web pages or their underlying content management systems to extend the capabilities of their Websites. They can take the form of search boxes, social media buttons, feed readers and a variety of other functions.
Microsoft is turning to the Bing Knowledge widget to help Websites and blogs keep their visitors engaged with their content longer and help expand Bing's reach.
"The Bing Knowledge widget—which only requires a few lines of script—brings the power of Satori to a Website or blog, providing valuable insights directly on your page to keep your users on your site," Vincent Wehren, senior program manager of Bing Webmaster Tools and Entity Experiences, explained in a Bing Blog post.
Bing Knowledge analyzes a page "and is able to detect and mark up the entities found on the page in real time" when a user visits it, informed Wehren. To explore a detected entity, users "can simply click the automatically generated link, and Bing will show the information we have about the entity from the Bing Knowledge repository," he said.
The widget has already gone through a trial run, of sorts, at MSN for U.S. visitors. Affecting the site's entertainment sections, the widget hotlinks the names of celebrities, TV shows and other entertainment-related terms. Clicking those terms causes a side panel to emerge from the right, displaying related images and information that includes biographical data, Klout scores and associated social media accounts.
Now, Microsoft is opening up the program to the public.
Wehren said that "the Webmaster team has now been authorized to start working with third-party Websites and publishers and on-board them with the Bing Knowledge technology preview." Only "a small set of sites" are eligible at the start, but he encourages interested site and blog owners to sign up via their Microsoft Webmaster Tools accounts.