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November 12, 2009

Microsoft grabs Wolfram Alpha deal

Knowledge engine answers to appear in Bing searches

By Steve Evans

Microsoft has announced a tie-up between its Bing search engine and Wolfram Alpha, a computational knowledge engine that aims to answer queries directly rather than present the user with a long list of websites.

Wolfram Alpha – hailed as a genuine threat to Google when it launched in May 2009 – is the brainchild of British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram. Bing is Microsoft’s revamped search offering, launched with a blaze of publicity earlier this year. It replaced Redmond’s Live search service as Microsoft looks to increase revenues from online advertising.

The deal will see Wolfram Alpha results displayed in Bing searches related to nutrition, health and advanced mathematics. Microsoft becomes one of the first customers of Wolfram Alpha’s recently-launched API.

“By using our API, Bing will be able to seamlessly access the tens of thousands of algorithms and trillions of pieces of data from Wolfram Alpha, and directly incorporate the computations in its search results,” said Schoeller Porter in a blog post.

“Roughly 90 Million Americans are on a diet every year, which means keeping track of your diet and physical condition is important to many people. Bing, powered by Wolfram Alpha, will bring you improved nutrition results in order to help you make more informed choices on your diet,” said Tracey Yao and Pedro Silva, both product managers with Bing, in a blog.

They added that when searching for food information on Bing, the user will receive a nutrition tab where they can access more details. “You also get a nutrition facts label at the bottom of the results page that summarises all information on that food item in a very familiar and friendly format,” Yao and Silva added.

The partnership will be rolled out across the US initially, with a UK launch date not yet confirmed.

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Bing has signed a number of deals recently that it hopes will enable it to grab market share from search giant Google. In September it announced it was adding visual search to its results, enabling users to browse results via images rather than text. It also announced a deal with Twitter to integrate tweets into Bing’s search results. However, Google announced a similar deal a day later.


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