The new Action Buttons can link you directly to pages where you can book a hotel room, schedule a flight, rent a car, or run other specific tasks.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Bing is now trying to direct you toward specific actions with a new search feature appropriately dubbed Action Buttons.
Designed to appear among certain types of search results, the Action Buttons can link you to pages where you can complete a specific task. For example, searching for airline flights may pop up a result for an airline with Action Buttons that you can click on to book a flight, view a flight status, and check in with the airline. Searching for hotel rooms may display different hotels with links to find their locations and reserve a room.
The goal, as always, is to reduce the number of links that you have to click on to find the information you need. So far, the Action Buttons stretch across seven different categories--airlines, restaurants, hotels, rental cars, banks, software downloads, and mail couriers.
Microsoft has based the Action Buttons on a series of algorithms that determine the top actions and links for a given category, according to yesterday's Bing blog. So for example, if you're searching for car rental companies, it's likely you want to rent a car or just contact a company. If you're searching for airline flights, you probably want to book a flight or check on a flight's status.
I ran a few searches across some of the specific categories. Searching for Enterprise Rent-a-Car displayed Action Buttons where I could rent a car, search for locations, or contact someone. Searching for specific banks displayed a Log In button where I could log in if I had an account. And searching for Adobe showed me a Download link where I could download Photoshop and other products.
The results typically worked best if I searched for a specific company or product name rather than a generic category. But any feature that can cut down on the number of links you have to click on is certainly a step in the right direction.