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Microsoft bringing Google-like instant search to Bing

Microsoft is set to go toe-to-toe with Google by outfitting its Bing search engine with an “instant results” feature to deliver near-real time results for search queries.

Last September, Google introduced Google Instant, a system that delivers search results seemingly as terms are being typed into the search field. “Instant” searches add a feeling of interactivity to Web searches in addition to potentially shaving a few seconds off the process of finding relevant content.

Microsoft has been diligently working to mold Bing into a worthy competitor to Google. In February, the rivalry between the two search engines erupted into a minor spat after Google accused Bing of adjusting its search algorithm to copy Google’s search results. Subsequently, our own experiment found that about half of the first page results were identical between the two search engines.

Search results aside, Microsoft may allow itself room to innovate with its instant search venture — at least in theory. The addition of instant searches is actually part of a Bing makeover that will incorporate HTML5 into the search site. According to WinRumors, the unveiling of the HTML5-based Bing site will coincide with the launch of the long-awaited Internet Explorer 9 Web browser. You can see a preview of the site here.

HTML5 is the emerging standard that aims to incorporate a basic level of interactivity into web pages — challenging Adobe’s Flash in the process. Although HTML5 has yet to gain approval from the Word Wide Web Consortium (w3C), the governing body of Internet standards, we’ve already seen a few forward-thinking browsers begin to support some of its capabilities.

The reliance on HTML5 means that to use the new Bing site — and its instant search capability — you’ll have to be equipped with a thoroughly “modern” browser. That might upset some Bing loyalists who aren’t eager to upgrade. But Microsoft’s decision to become an early adopter of HTML5  might be a signal that we’ll finally see some big innovations —  and not Google imitations — from Bing.