Bing search and Bing Maps are being updated in a strong attempt to catch up with Google.
You may think that the name Bing for a search engine is silly but Microsoft is still putting its efforts into making it number one - or at least not quite such an clear cut number two. A new UI for the Bing search engine is being tested on a small selection of users picked at random. The big change seems to be nothing more than the addition of some tabs that users can select to narrow a search down.
Building on the brand name Bing Maps is also being showered with new features in an effort to catch Google Earth. The latest idea is integration with Foursquare which offers local information and community features such as "check-in" which lets everyone know where you are and enables you to earn badges to foster a sense of belonging. Users also see special offers that they are close to such as happy hour and early bird meals. The real-time geographic data will appear directly on maps created using the Silverlight Bing Maps control. While the original Bing Maps web page is still available, users are being encouraged to switch to the Silverlight 3 hosted display.
Previous updates to Bing Maps include Twitter integration, Worldwide Telescope and Streetside view. Recently (early Feb) Microsoft also rolled out 6.7 million square kilometers of new satellite imagery to directly challenge Google Earth's generally accepted better global coverage. However in, admittedly unscientific, random comparisons Google Earth still seemed to have the edge in many areas of the world.
Arguably the biggest attraction for programmers trying to work out whether to use Google Earth or Bing Maps is the availability of the Silverlight Bing Maps Control.