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Microsoft Bing has major upgrade in a bid to catch up with Google

Three years after its initial launch, Bing is getting the social media treatment, with a focus on its new three-column design and its "snapshot" feature. The upgrade was first announced last month, and goes live for everyone today.

Bing dramatically revamped its search results page last month, the first update since the site debuted three years ago.

Snapshot's center column is nestled between the standard Web results on the left and a new sidebar on the right. According to the Bing blog, it brings to the forefront relevant information and services related to your search.

"With snapshot, Bing does the heavy lifting by organizing useful information so you can act more quickly," the blog said.

"It provides people with a clear, visual reason why they should 'break the Google habit,'" a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Users got a sneak peek last month at Bing's update through the search engine's preview link - previously available at - which showed integration with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Quora, Foursquare, and other social networks.

"We believe that delivering a superior product that actually solves customer problems will push Bing to the forefront," the spokeswoman said. "And this will come naturally as we continually improve and refine Bing."

Now searchers can visit for direct access to the new site. Microsoft has been leaning toward a social media tie-up since 2010, when Microsoft connected Bing search results with Facebook "likes." Bing can detect if a user is logged into Facebook, and pull those "likes" to build Web search results.

According to a Bing survey, more than 90 percent of people reported that they tend to seek advice of family and friends as part of their decision-making process.

"With Bing, it's easier than ever to get that input and go from searching to doing," Microsoft said.

In line with that process, the Microsoft search engine designed its new social features to allow an easy exchange of ideas and sharing of opinions, building the same confidence someone may feel after bouncing an idea off of a friend, the blog said.

Today's announcement included the search engine's new advertising campaign, Bing Summer of Doing, "designed to inspire people to do amazing things this summer," the blog said.

"We feel our unique approach will be attractive to consumers because it provides social context to search without compromising the organic results - ultimately helping people do more," the spokeswoman said.

Days after the initial Bing reveal, meanwhile, Google unveiled what it called its "Knowledge Graph," which combines a Bing-like "snapshot" panel with results that appear closer to Wolfram Alpha's own knowledge engine.