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Rather than just being a direct competitor to Google, Microsoft’s Bing search engine is morphing into a much more interesting animal.

The company announced Bing for Developers at its Build conference in San Francisco today, which opens up Bing’s data as a set of APIs for developers to implement in their Windows apps.

“I learned a lesson in the ’90s when I was a developer on Windows OS,” said Microsoft VP Gurdeep Singh Pall on stage at the conference. “That is, if we can do something with an API that is good, third parties can do something that is dynamite.”


As the slide above shows, Bing for Developers will include the engine’s web index and knowledge graph, but it will also focus on the Natural User Interface, or NUI.

To show off what’s possible with the new integration, Pall demoed a companion travel app, which sported voice controls, a voice guide, Expedia integration, and Bing images integration. The app looked slick, but it was clearly produced for this particular demo.

Pall also revealed that the Bing Maps application in Windows 8.1 will (finally) include support for 3D imagery. That’s something Google has had for years, and Apple featured prominently in its troubled map app.

Bing for Developers is yet another way Microsoft is trying to tempt devs away from other platforms, but it remains to be seen if anyone will actually find these features interesting. The Bing brand has been something of a joke in the search world, so it’s not exactly the sort of thing that will excite developers.

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