Ars Technica is reporting that the full version of Bing will arrive in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, and the UK “in the next few weeks”. Emil Protalinski at Ars Technica does not provide any attribution or link to a source for this information, but we’ve found him to be reliable in the past.
In a response to our questions about the article, a Microsoft spokesman offered this:
“We will continue to evaluate the product’s readiness to come out of beta in a market-by-market fashion to ensure it provides a compelling offering for local consumers. Our goal is to lift the beta tag and provide a more differentiated experience for select markets by the end of the fiscal year, however, Bing will continue to be labeled beta in a majority of markets internationally until we feel we have achieved a more deeply differentiated product.”
Not exactly a denial, so we’ll just have to wait and see when and if the markets in question do indeed drop the beta tag.
According to the Ars Technica article, the UK will likely see changes first, and Canada, unlike the other countries, will have categorizations working. In addition:
background pictures specific to each country will eventually appear on Bing. With these new backgrounds, the hotspots feature will also appear, showing more information about the image.
And starting next month, a number of those markets (including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, and the UK) will begin customizing the images to suit their unique audience, as well as adding their own hotspots.
Much of the Bing launch has been focused on the new brand, the ad campaign, and the introduction of a number of features in Bing that have actually been in Live Search for quite some time. However some good signs pointing to Bing’s ability to react quickly have been promising. Bing created a better way to filter explicit images and video , and some changes to the way breaking news is handled (after news of Michael Jackson’s death was slow to appear in Bing search results), both shortly after complaints and comments surfaced in blogs and news reports. Since the launch, Bing has also enhanced their Sitemap support, and introduced the Bing Toolbox for webmasters.
Dropping the beta tag from these markets, and continuing to introduce features (even if they’re only new to certain markets) may help to keep the buzz created by the mostly successful launch going.