Can Microsoft Bank on Bing?

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After years of playing second fiddle to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) search engine, Bing appears to be part of much bigger plans for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The company has opened up Bing as a developer platform and could start monetizing it on a level previously considered a long shot, according to company executives.

Microsoft’s plan is to get more developers using its products by opening up the Entity API and other parts of Bing Services. Should developers decide they can use the information provided by Microsoft’s advanced data stores, it could prove to be a boon for licensing agreements and other lucrative deals. In other words, it could make Bing more profitable than anyone considered possible in the past.

The application programming interfaces (APIs) that have been available for developers to use in the past were never as advanced as elements like Entity, according to Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch. Stefan Weitz, the Director of Search for Microsoft, told Lardinois there were a series of discussions concerning whether to release the full arsenal of tools to developers not working for the company. In a positive development for Microsoft, those supporting increased interaction with outside developers won.

So far, the tools available to developers are only for Microsoft products, but that will change in the near future. Company executives have realized they will need to attract developers away from Google in order to compete in the long run, and to make Bing a profitable enterprise. A recent Bing blog post hinted at the company’s direction.

“For us, the future of search is not about more search boxes — it’s about building a platform to enable applications and devices to empower people with knowledge and help them do more — not just search more,” it reads. “Today…we are announcing more of these intelligent services will be available to third party developers to empower them to create more engaging customer experiences.”

Part of the attraction will be allowing developers access to the information used to power the Bing search engine. The so-called “Satori” knowledge base will be a valuable commodity for developers moving forward. Once access is open to teams on all sides, Microsoft might be able to bank on Bing.

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