Bing search upgrades include Facebook 'likes'

Microsoft on Wednesday began rolling out Bing upgrades that included showing which query results were "liked" by friends at online social networking hotspot Facebook.

The improvements came as the software colossus tried to wrest market share from the leading Internet search service Google.

"The core of our work addresses the fact that the Web is getting more complex and faceted - not less," online services division senior vice president Satya Nadella said in a blog post.

"We are building new technologies that help Bing figure out what people like you are trying to do, and match that with the right experiences to help get things done."

Bing is expanding its partnership with Facebook, a California firm in which Microsoft owns a small stake, to show which links displayed in search results have been tagged as "liked" by friends at the social network.

Bing also updated its mobile applications for Internet searches on iPhone and Android smartphones with features that included being able to make restaurant reservations using OpenTable or order take-away food using Grubhub.

In a nod to the growing trend of location based services and advertising, Bing will also begin letting people "check-in" places using mobile devices.

A feature being launching in coming months will let users of Bing on desktop computers virtually step inside and take 360-degree ganders at restaurants or other venues.

Bing also made searches for online pictures more intuitive and better organized, according to Microsoft.

"We continue looking for new ways to bring more visual and social experiences to Bing and help make it the best place to make decisions and get stuff done," Bing team members said in a message announcing the upgrades.

Google relentlessly hones and improves its online search service with the aim of ramping up the speed and relevance of results.

In November, Google rolled out a new feature called "Instant Previews" that allows Web surfers to sample websites without having to click through to the pages.

"Instant Previews" came on the heels of "Google Instant," a feature launched in September that displays search results as fast as a user types.

Industry-tracker comScore on Wednesday reported that Google "powered" 69.2 percent of US search results in November, while 24 percent of online searches were powered by Bing, which handles queries at Yahoo! websites.