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Bing Works to Bring Entertainment Front and Center

Microsoft is hoping digital entertainment can bring more eyeballs to its Bing search service: the company has unveiled new features that aim to surface online entertainment options—with special focuses on music, TV, movies, and gaming—so users can turn to Bing to make “entertainment decisions,” not just search the Internet.

“We see a great opportunity to help customers make important entertainment decisions—from deciding what movie to buy or see, which TV shows to watch online or on your TV, what music to listen to, how to find and safely play your favorite casual games,” said Microsoft senior VP for Bing Yusuf Mehdi, in a blog post. “Bing is making a first step today to help make entertainment on the Web easy and fun, so you spend less time searching for entertainment and more time doing the stuff you love.”

On the gaming front, Microsoft worked with its in-house games team to offer nearly 100 casual online games right within Bing. Users can now play many popular online games right within BIng, which Microsoft is touting as a security benefit (no need to worry about malware sites) but also as a social win: players can tap into their social networks from the games.

Bing has also assembled a collection of thousands of full-length television shows that users can watch from within Bing, including some high-definition content. Bing’s music search now pulls up lyrics within Bing, as well as colates information like tour dates, photos, and videos within the search engine; Microsoft also tapped its Zune team to offer full-length streaming of more than 5 million songs, with links to purchase through iTunes, Amazon, or (of course) the Zune Store. Folks into movies will find information not just on local theaters and show times, but information on where to park, nearby restaurants for the dinner-and-a-movie experience, along with reviews and comments from social media services.

Bing has set up a dedicated page to the changes; music streaming should be running in a few days, and a TV listings service will be “along in a couple of weeks.”

Microsoft’s entertainment strategy with Bing is kind of a throwback to the bad old days of Internet portal sites, where companies not only sought to be a users’ preferred gateway to the Internet, but also to encapsulate a users’ entire mainstream Internet experience. It remains to be seen whether Internet users are ready to lock themselves into a portal like Bing for online entertainment; however, the comprehensiveness of the features definitely helps Bing in its ongoing competition with the likes of Google for eyeballs…and ad revenue.

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