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Microsoft Links Facebook To Bing

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Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is expanding its relationship with Facebook, bringing information from a user’s friends on the social network to its search results. Users who search for a term on Bing will now see a module, which includes details from friends’ updates and “likes” on the social network. A user who searches for the name of a movie, for instance, can now see which of their friends “liked” it.

The partnership also brings additional information from Facebook to people searches on Bing. Users who search for a name now on Bing will now see images and basic information corresponding to members of the social network whose names match; the user can also add those people as Facebook friends directly from the search engine or message them. During an event at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley headquarters, executives repeatedly said that a number of additional tie-ins are on the way.

The relationship provides a potential challenge to Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which does not have a similar agreement with Facebook. While the search giant was never mentioned by name at the event, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his remarks that Microsoft was in a “position where they are incentivized to go all out and innovate” and later referred to them as “the innovative one.” Google, however, introduced an experimental feature last fall that puts content, like blog posts, written by a user’s friends prominently at the bottom of search results, as long as a user has created a Google profile and linked it with social networks he or she is a member of.

Facebook and Microsoft did not say whether there was a financial component to their search partnership. The two companies already have a long-standing relationship. Microsoft bought a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook three years ago, and the two companies collaborate on ad sales. And, since last fall, Microsoft has been featuring real-time updates from Facebook in its search results, although, until now, they were not personalized to a user.