Microsoft today launched a new personalized cards feature on Bing.com that is meant to help you “keep track of things that matter to you.” So far, the site offers cards for news, weather, flights, and stocks tailored specifically to you.
Using the feature will naturally require that you sign in to your Microsoft account, and set up your interests to let Bing know what it should track. Then, when it’s appropriate (or so Microsoft says), Bing will display a relevant card, such as when your stock changes or flight is delayed.
If this sounds like Google Now, that’s because it pretty much is. When Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana two weeks ago, the company emphasized that the personal digital assistant was largely powered by Bing.
In fact, Microsoft notes that “as long as you’re signed in, Bing will remember your interests and notify you, as appropriate, across a range of Bing-powered Microsoft services.” These include Cortana, but also the various Bing-branded apps for Windows and Windows Phone.
The difference with today’s launch is that Microsoft is choosing to bring its version of the personalized cards to a website (Bing.com) rather than a browser (like Internet Explorer). Last month, Google Now arrived in Chrome for Windows and Mac.
This is an interesting strategy. While Google has been moving away from a personalized homepage for many years now, culminating in the death of iGoogle in in November 2013, Microsoft has been pulling the other way with various integrations and partnerships. That’s not a bad move: Microsoft has to make sure it’s offering a significantly unique experience compared to Google so it can stay competitive.
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