News Analysis: Microsoft continues to wheel and deal with its Bing search engine, as it seeks to overtake Google, but the leader with 65 percent market share is not sitting still.
The latest duel is in data computation. Microsoft has it, courtesy of Wolfram Alpha. Google does not, but a company engineer hinted that it is heading there.
Bing unleashed a flurry of improvements Nov. 11, the most important being a data deal with Wolfram Alpha, a computational search engine. While users enter keywords on Google, Bing and Yahoo and those search engines leverage natural language algorithms to search the Web, Wolfram Alpha is the mother of all calculators.
Users type a mathematical equation into the Wolfram Alpha search bar, and the site spits out the input, the result and the "number name," a spelled-out version.
In a deal for which financial terms were not disclosed, Wolfram Alpha is making its computational algorithms and data available through Bing.
Soon when users go to Bing they will be able to enter mathematical queries and have Bing calculate them through Wolfram Alpha's API. In Microsoft's example, Bing will also be able to help inform users interested in finding data points on nutrition. Bing will be able to tell users whether steak or chicken has more protein, as well as whether oranges have more vitamins than apples or kiwis.
Previously, Bing would have returned search results based on the keywords users entered for those nutritional queries. But by leveraging the Wolfram Alpha algorithms, Bing becomes a computational search engine.
Google isn't there yet, but it appears to be working on similar technology. Right around the time Bing unveiled its deal with Wolfram Alpha, Google pulled the trigger on a nifty addition to its public data search.
The company added World Bank data to its search repertoire, allowing users to search for and see graphical representations of statistics for specific world data.
For example, users can search for such topics as electricity consumption per capita, or carbon dioxide emissions per capita for certain countries. Users will not only see this info plotted out on a line chart, but will be able to cross reference that data with other countries by checking boxes.