Microsoft Adds Bing Features to Hotmail

Microsoft has integrated Bing into Hotmail, with a Quick Add feature that uses Bing search to pull video, maps, images and other content into users' e-mails. Since its June 3 release, Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Bing through a number of channels in a bid to claim some search-engine market share away from arch-rivals Google and Yahoo.

Certain key features of Microsoft Bing, the company's new search engine, have been integrated into the Quick Add feature of Hotmail.

With Quick Add, the Bing-enhanced functionality includes the ability to insert video, maps, images and listings into e-mails. After running a Bing search and selecting the relevant content, the user simply needs to click "insert" in order to introduce the element into the e-mail.

The combination of Bing and Quick Add in Hotmail seems another component in Microsoft's broader strategy to put its search engine in front of as many pairs of eyes as humanly possible.

The U.S. online community used Bing for 8.23 percent of its Web searches in June 2009, according to a study done by StatCounter, a noticeable boost over Microsoft's search-engine market share before Bing's June 3 release. However, Google still remained the dominant player in search, with some 78.72 percent of the June market, according to the same report.

Bing's early numbers were doubtlessly helped by Microsoft's massive ad campaign, estimated to cost somewhere in the $80 million to $100 million range. During Bing's first week online, StatCounter says it took some 9.21 percent of the search engine market before dipping slightly.

Linking Bing to Hotmail could prove a boost to Microsoft, considering that the e-mail service had some 43.5 million users in 2008, according to comScore. By contrast, Yahoo Mail had 91.9 million unique visitors, while AOL Mail was second for that year with 46.6 million souls. All those services lead Gmail, which had an estimated 29.6 million users last year.

E-mail services have integrated an increasing number of applications and features into their interface in a bid to both gain and retain users. Google, for example, has been adding a variety of experimental tools to Gmail via Gmail Labs.