Microsoft today released a new version of Bing Desktop, adding a slew of new features for Windows XP users and up. If you already have Bing Desktop, the company says you should receive an update “in the next few days,” but either way, you can download the latest version directly from here.

Microsoft says over 10 million users have now installed Bing Desktop worldwide. Given that the application was released just over a year ago, that’s not a bad figure, but it’s also not exactly massive.

Nevertheless, it’s still enough of a userbase to keep updating the software, at least according to Microsoft. Here’s what’s new in this release:

  • Inline Search: Now you can search directly from a webpage, Word document, or PDF file simply by highlighting the word or phrase you want and clicking the Bing icon.
  • Faster Ways to Explore via Bing Desktop Apps: Microsoft is releasing a new weather app and has overhauled the news and Facebook apps from the ground up to make it easier to stay up-to-date at a glance.

The first point is arguably the most useful. If you’re reading something and want to quickly get more information about a topic or phrase, most people copy the text, launch a browser, and paste the words into the search box. Inline Search lets you highlight what you want to search and just hit the Bing icon. This will give you a preview of search results without ever leaving what you were doing:

image 066DF8A5 Bing Desktop for Windows gets inline search, real time weather, trending topics, Facebook notifications, and more

To be frank, this is really only useful if you’re reading something in any application but the browser (after all, this is “Bing Desktop” we’re not talking about). Both Internet Explorer and Google Chrome offer right-click options for highlighted text that take you to Bing or Google, and most people will likely continue to use those rather than querying a desktop search app.

The rest of what’s new comes from the second point. The Real-Time Weather Snapshot does exactly what its name implies; it shows you the weather in real-time, customized to where you live (left screenshot below).

bing apps 730x306 Bing Desktop for Windows gets inline search, real time weather, trending topics, Facebook notifications, and more

The news app meanwhile lets you stay up-to-date across categories (All, US, World, Business, and Entertainment). As you can see above, Microsoft has added a new cascading layout that lets you see images and text summaries as well as a visual collection of the top trending items on the Web.

Last but not least, Microsoft has added Facebook notifications to the Bing Desktop app. This is part of a continued effort to make social an integral part of Bing.

image 4F3444DE Bing Desktop for Windows gets inline search, real time weather, trending topics, Facebook notifications, and more

For Bing Desktop users, this is clearly a big update. We personally don’t find it compelling as we spend almost all of our time consuming content in the browser, but for those who do spend a lot of time offline, it’s definitely worth a download.

Top Image Credit: Leszek Nowak