Better Search Arriving with Windows 8.1

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been lucky enough to work with product teams across Microsoft to include the capabilities of Bing in some of our most exciting products. Whether Xbox, Windows Phone, Office or Windows 8, we’ve begun a journey to make it easier to find the stuff you are looking for and take action on your favorite Microsoft devices. Today we take another important step in that journey, as the Windows team took the wraps off the upcoming release of Windows 8.1.

It’s an exciting release which will bring lots of cool new features to Windows users just a short time after the launch of Windows 8. One of the big investment areas in the release is a new way to think about search in Windows.  We’ve been working hard with the Windows team to reimagine what search can and should mean in the Windows experience. With search in Windows 8.1 our intent is to have one way to find what you’re looking for, no matter where it lives – whether it’s a document on your PC, a photo album in the cloud, an app, PC setting or a website.  In just a tap or a click you can play, view, launch, or browse.

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To set the course, we looked hard how people have been interacting with the new user experience introduced in Windows 8.  Search has long been a part of Windows – especially powerful and useful in Windows 8 – where the Search Charm gives you a single place to find content in your apps. People told us they liked the ease of having fewer places to search.  In Windows 8, people could direct their question at an app (like Travel) and have Bing bring back a beautiful, multi-faceted set of information and tools to help them plan their summer trip. But Windows 8.1 takes an even bigger step – with its new search experience, you can find your own personal stuff as well as content from the open web and the creativity of the millions of authors and developers. Modern search needs to be complete and help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s on your PC, in your top apps, or on the web.

At the same time, the web itself has become more vibrant, more capable, and unimaginably vast, encompassing tens of trillions of web pages housing pictures and videos and the digital footprints of billions of people spread across the world. Frankly, it can be a bit overwhelming. So we knew that completeness on its own wasn’t enough. Modern search needs to be finely crafted and well-organized so that you can not only find what you’re looking for, but you can find it quickly. Modern search is fast and fluid. Just as the best modern apps provide a natural, rich experience, we wanted to bring that same level of intuitive design to accomplishing a broader range of tasks. So we’ve designed an entirely modern search experience specifically for Windows that will begin to unify your online and offline worlds, so you can interact more naturally with the tools you use and the things you create. 

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We think your digital world should be accessible without having to actually ‘go to search’. Just like few people say they are going to ‘go online’, we want to make ‘searching’ something that’s just there when you need it.  So from the Start screen in Windows 8.1, you can just start typing what you want.  A city.  An artist.  The name of your cat – it doesn’t matter.  As you type, you will see suggestions about what you might be looking for and a quick tap on any of the suggestions will expose you to a whole new way to use Windows.  Regardless of where something lives and what it is – a document on your PC, your photo album in the cloud, an app, a website, a program – with just a tap, you can play, view, launch, browse, and more. Modern search isn’t just about finding information. It’s about using your PC to do the things you love.

We think that your search experience should be beautiful as well as functional and we don’t think the two are at odds. Modern search takes the best of Bing multimedia and brings it into the Windows search experience to create something that’s not only useful and well-organized but also highly crafted. You’ll see rich images across all your search results that help you find what you’re looking for faster and help bring order to the vast information on the web. Modern search needs to be functional, and we think it should also be spectacular.

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Imagine you’re planning a trip to Paris.  Simply type the name of the city and you’ll immediately see beautiful, full-bleed images, upcoming events in the city, and popular attractions.  But you can also check the current weather and book a hotel in the Bing Travel app, without having to open it up and type “Paris” again.  In the same way, your itinerary and budget, whether they are saved on your laptop or in the cloud, are right there. And of course, we’ll show you the great web results you’ve come to expect from Bing.  “Paris” isn’t just a single file or a search query in an app: it is a concept, full of both meaning and context, and we’ll bring its unique meaning to your digital life, all in one place.

Windows 8.1, with its new search capabilities, is the first step in moving beyond what search can do today and towards an intent-driven computing experience.  It acknowledges the role of the ever more capable and web and that the things you create and use will be stored across multiple spaces.  Because your computer should be the ultimate toolbox: ever capable, always organized, and ready to help you do and know in a way that feels natural.

- Derrick Connell, Corporate Vice President, Bing