Microsoft brings back-and-forth conversations to Bing

The tech giant launches a new feature that lets users continue a conversation within search results.

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A Bing search for the president of the US. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Sometimes when you seek an answer from a search engine, it only brings up more questions. Well, Microsoft has been working on a fix for that.

The tech giant rolled out a new feature for Bing on Wednesday that lets users have more of a conversation with the search engine, rather than just asking random questions.

For example, if you type in "who is the president of the United States," you'll get "Barack Obama." Then, if you want more information you can type into the query box, "how tall is he," and Bing will know you're talking about the president and will answer back "Barack Obama height, 6 feet, 1 inch."

"For all kinds of searches, Bing lets you ask a question the way you would ask a friend," Bing Relevance Team principal development lead Yan Ke wrote in a blog post. "By combining conversational understanding with our knowledge repository containing information on billions of people, places and things, you can dive and learn more about a topic or interest."

Bing conversations are not quite like Microsoft's new Cortana voice assistant for Windows Phone 8.1, but are still a step in that direction. Like Apple's Siri and, to a lesser extent, Google's voice actions, Cortana is a personable voice-activated system for taking dictation, looking things up, and opening apps. By launching Bing conversations, it seems Microsoft is aiming to eventually bring users similar experiences on both desktop and mobile.

 

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