Microsoft Adds Bing Image Search to Sway

Adding visuals to Microsoft's interactive presentations gets a little easier with new Bing Image Search support.

Bing search

Betting that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, Microsoft has updated its Office Sway software with a feature that makes it easier to find images and incorporate them into mobile-friendly interactive presentations.

Office Sway represents a break from tradition for Microsoft. Instead of slide-based tools like PowerPoint, Sway enables users to create shareable online presentations that scale from the tight confines of a smartphone screen all the way up to a large PC display.

"Sways" can include images, videos and text, and while options abound, those elements generally zoom or smoothly slide into place as users advance through a Sway presentation. Authors can source content from OneDrive, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and local storage.

Now, Microsoft is streamlining the process of finding royalty-free images and adding them to the mix.

"In response to requests from users (particularly in the education space) about wanting to be able to search for Creative Commons licensed images directly from the Internet, we've integrated Bing Image Search functionality into Sway," announced Microsoft's Sway group in a Dec. 4 Office Blogs post. "Now you can search for images tagged with Creative Commons licenses within Sway."

For over a decade, Creative Commons intellectual property licensing schemes have helped content creators share their works online. Artists and content producers can select from several licenses, including some that allow for free, non-commercial use. Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization, estimates that there are 882 million licensed works as of 2014.

Sway users can now access Creative Commons-licensed images, courtesy of Bing Image Search integration.

"Simply click the source dropdown and select Bing. Type anything into the search bar, press Enter and get back the results for a Bing Image Search," instructed the Sway Team.

The new feature is not a free-for-all, cautioned Microsoft. "A URL to the source of the image is provided, which allows you to navigate to the original image and review the license terms to make sure your use is permitted," wrote the Sway Team members. "You are responsible for respecting others' rights, including copyright."

In keeping with Sway's user-friendly setup, users "can simply drag and drop any image from the Bing Image Search results right into your Sway. No need to first download an image to your hard drive and then upload it to Sway," they added.

New built-in machine learning and intelligence capabilities also help provide an assisted Sway authoring experience, revealed Microsoft.

"From the first word you add to your Sway, 'Suggested' searches uses natural language processing to begin showing tags for related words and phrases you might be interested in, based on what you've already written," stated the Sway Team. "When you see a tag you like, tap or click it to perform the Bing Image Search based on these words or phrases."

Suggested searches enables the tech to function as "a content gathering assistant," the team said. And more machine learning perks are on the way. "We'll continue adding more intelligence capabilities that help you quickly and easily create awesome Sways."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...