Since Microsoft's Bing search engine debuted, it's made a strong charge against Google, the search market's dominant player. It has had diverse and attention-grabbing advertising campaigns, its partnership with Yahoo is one of the biggest search collaborations of the last decade, and it regularly rolls out timely and compelling new features like the recent integration of Twitter and Facebook feeds.
Because of this, Bing has been steadily gaining traffic and revenue, according to recent figures by Hitwise and IDC.
Today, Bing is beginning to show a geekier and more productive side through a partnership with computational search engine Wolfram Alpha. Now, in addition to doing Web searches, Bing can process raw numerical data in areas such as nutrition, health and advanced mathematics.
"By using our API, Bing will be able to seamlessly access the tens of thousands of algorithms and trillions of pieces of data from Wolfram|Alpha, and directly incorporate the computations in its search results," Wolfram Alpha's Schoeller Porter wrote today.
For an increasing number of topics, Bing can create more sticky search results pages. One of the examples the Bing team used in its blog today was the query "dodecahedron," a twelve-sided polygon (and character in Norton Juster's kid's story The Phantom Tollbooth). On the Bing results page, it now shows an image of the polygon, its combinatorial properties, its geometric properties, and more. On Google, it also provides images, but everything else is presented as a link, immediately shuffling the searcher off to another site. The more useful data Bing can deliver, the longer it will be able to keep the user aboard.
These features began rolling out today, but will not be complete for a few days, so availability of Wolfram Alpha results will vary. In Betanews tests today, the calculation capability was not yet online.