If you thought that Bing cannot grab more market share from Google search, think again. Microsoft is pushing its search engine to your Office suite. How brilliant is that? A couple of years back, Microsoft reported roughly half a billion people using Office. Today, the numbers are higher. The implications for Google search? Millions of Word and Excel users now have the option to search with Bing, without ever leaving their documents. This is a strong punch for Google, but search rivalry aside, where productivity is concerned, Microsoft scored big for the users.
Imagine a student, preparing a white paper. Bing is there, offering powerful tools for research: Bing News search for Office, Bing Dictionary, and Bing Image search, to name three of the five apps released yesterday. Bing Finance and Maps will be great for business use. The ways you will be using these apps depend on your needs, and your imagination.
Owners of the new Office 365 Home Premium now have new ways to get more done on the go. Bing Apps for Office are free Bing-powered apps, which work similar to Bing-poweried apps on Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox. What you now get for your Office suite are Bing Maps, Bing Finance, Bing News Search, Bing Dictionary, and Bing Images Search. The apps are not defaults – you need to manually add them to your software if you want to use them. If these apps were default in the new Office suite, Google would be already screaming bloody murder, and try to force Microsoft to allow other defaults (like Google News search, and Google image search) for “fair competition.”
All these apps are designed to enhance productivity, and to give you more tools to work with, directly in your office suite. For instance, Bing Maps for Office was designed as a visualization tool for Excel. Using location names, you can pull in a Bing map, and work with it as you would in the browser, zooming in and out, and even adjusting the map view to road or birds eye. The screenshot above gives you a fair idea of how things work.
Bing Finance for Office is a finance portfolio tool, still in beta. Like Bing Maps for Office, it was designed for Excel, allowing you to build a finance portfolio table in two ways: Data Pivot and News Pivot. You can search and build a list of companies, add stocks, refresh values, and much more.
Bing Image Search for Office and Bing News Search for Office were designed for Word, allowing you to perform searches on the web from within your document. When you find what you are looking for, you can easily add the data to your document, and save it for later use. For News, search results are displayed on the right sidebar, under three pivots, including best match, video and current. Results can be added to favorites, and viewed by clicking on the highlighted star icon on top right.
Last, but not least, Bing Dictionary for Office comes in handy if you type documents in English, and you are not sure about the latest definitions and spellings available. The app can suggest letters, words or phrases – a great addition to the already exiting Word thesaurus, that doesn’t necessarily contain neologisms of various industries.
Waggener-Edstrom is the PR Agency of record for Microsoft.