Microsoft Launching Tablet-Friendly Bing Image Search Update

In addition to pointing and clicking, improvements to Bing Image Search include a dynamic site design that is optimized for touch.

Bing Image Search is entering its “next phase,” members of Microsoft’s search division teased in a blog post. The planned updates, which will roll out during the coming weeks, include a dynamic site design that is optimized for touch.
The Google Images competitor’s user interface poses a challenge to users as it layered added functionality, including search suggestions, and “people increasingly access Bing from a wide array of devices and screen resolutions with and without touch,” according to the Bing team. “This evolves our old experience, which struggled to cleanly support new content, different resolutions and input methods.”
Image results now stretch the full width of a user’s screen, instead of competing with the Related Topics column. “This means an uncluttered first page where images are the hero,” they said. 
Previews will more faithfully resemble the originals, added Microsoft. “You’ll also notice that images have higher fidelity and are cropped and altered less to better inform your click.” Hovering over a thumbnail picture now generates a larger preview along with other information, including the image’s dimensions, format and origin.

Moreover, the new Bing Image Search experience is being prepared for an era in which mouse clicks are increasingly giving way to taps and gestures.

“Everything is touch-friendly, responsive, fast and fluid” on the iPad and touch-enabled Windows 8 devices, said the group. “These improvements will soon come to Kindle and Android tablets, as well. We now have one cohesive, touch-friendly experience across desktop and tablet and will be improving it more over time.”
The search suggestions feature has been streamlined into “a mini-header that slides in after you scroll down,” stated the post. “It’s designed to take about 10 percent of your screen to ensure it doesn’t detract from an immersive image search experience but still provide you with everything you’d need to change query or topic.”
Providing a glimpse into Microsoft’s Web analytics capabilities, Bing staffers said that the project was informed by user behavior.

Generally, visitors can be grouped into hunters and explorers, although those roles can shift, they discovered. “When it comes to image search, we know that when you conduct a search you’re either looking for a specific image or you’re looking to browse and explore across a range of different topics,” they wrote.
“We refer to these primary intents as hunting and exploring.” On average, people perform “two searches and view about six images.”
Google hasn’t been sitting still on the images front, either.
The latest image search experience from the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant sports a similarly uncluttered look that maximizes a user’s on-screen real estate and offers search suggestions. The layout automatically resizes to fit more images in a browser window as users scroll through their search results.

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Alibaba Instantly Becomes New Power Kid on the IT Block

Alibaba’s $232 billion early valuation makes it on paper more valuable than eBay (market cap $65 billion) and Amazon ($153 billion) combined.

Alibaba, the huge e-commerce merchant that sounds Middle Eastern but actually is headquartered in China, made financial history Sept. 19 with its record initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.
The $21.8 billion that the e-commerce giant garnered on its first day as a public company easily eclipsed the previous record, $19.7 billion raked in by Visa International, when it went public in 2008. In comparison, Facebook made $16 billion on its IPO in 2012, and Google’s 2004 offering earned a relatively modest $1.7 billion.
Alibaba’s $232 billion early valuation makes it on paper more valuable than eBay (market cap $65 billion) and Amazon ($153 billion) combined.
Alibaba sells a ton of merchandise but more than anything markets mobile devices to cloud services to mobile search apps. It wants to sell in high volumes to small and mid-range-size companies in the same way Amazon sells to consumers.

Stock Debuted with a 36 Percent Increase

The stock debuted on the NYSE at $92.70 a share—a healthy 36 percent increase above the IPO price of $68 per share shelled out by institutional investors the previous day. During the first trading day, BABA’s price rose to $99, then slipped a bit, ending the day at $93.89 a share, for a 38 percent increase on the day.
Silver Lake Management LLC, the U.S.’s largest IT-focused buyout firm, could be one of the biggest winners as a result of the IPO. The money managament firm stands to make more than five times its money in the record-breaking initial public offering, Bloomberg reported.

Silver Lake ostensibly made a paper gain of about $4.6 billion. The firm and its affiliates invested a total of $825 million in Alibaba during the last six years, including $447 million from Silver Lake’s third buyout fund in late 2011, Bloomberg said, citing an anonymous source because the information is private.
Yahoo was also a big winner Sept. 19. The struggling Sunnyvale, Calif.-based web search and services provider once owned a 24 percent stake in Alibaba; on Sept. 19, it owned 22.6 percent. After selling a slice to bolster its finances, company will retain a 16.3 percent. In the meantime, thanks largely to the escalated 38 percent increase in the stock price in the single day, Yahoo stands to make a total of $8.27 billion on that one slice before taxes.

Founder Was a Former English Teacher
Founder Jack Ma, 50, a former English teacher who started the company in his Hongsho apartment (there aren’t too many garages there, apparently) in China in 1999, is being hailed as a new Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. After the stock starting trading Sept. 19, he smiled a lot and did the requisite television and radio interviews, then went off to meetings with folks such as Bill Clinton, Sumner Redstone (Viacom) and Jeff Immelt (GE).
One can bet that this slightly built man will be in demand for quite a while here in the United States, where he wants his company to gain a foothold against Amazon and other online retailers.
“I believed 15 years ago that the Internet was going to change China,” Ma said in an interview on Bloomberg News. “And that it would also improve the world. Whether we would succeed or not, we didn’t know, but we knew somebody would succeed. I never knew that we would be here today. But I always believed we would be successful.”
Reaction to the long-expected Alibaba public offering was generally positive on Sept. 19, although the company’s brand recognition still has a long, long way to go in much of the world.
“Alibaba is a massive conglomerate with a huge scale in e-commerce and financial services in China, they are making a lot of money and dominate their market,” said Nate Gilmore, Vice-President of Marketing and Business Development at Shipwire Order Fulfillment, an Ingram Micro Company. Ingram is one of the largest systems integrators in the world.
Not Yet a Globally Known Brand
“Comparing it to the size of a joined Amazon and eBay (with PayPal), makes sense because of its dominance in Chinese e-commerce. However, it is not today a global brand with broad horizontal dominance. They have a giant war chest after this offering, so expect it to spread its reach and deepen the moats around its core business. In short, expect some very bold moves and an acceleration to its already aggressive investment strategy.
What does this IPO say to the markets?
“The company’s revenue strength and lock on Chinese e-commerce has clearly excited the market. However, the hype machine may be under appreciating the difficulty that Alibaba might have expanding outside of China, and the lack of transparency that Alibaba will give investors in their governance and potentially the amount of additional shares that could hit the market,” Gilmore said. “But today, it’s all ‘go.’”
Are U.S. investors hesitant about putting money into a Chinese company like this? “Likely some are; but the stock price reflects a desire to get a piece of Chinese e-commerce and get a piece of a brand with global ambitions,” Gilmore said.
Several analysts expect Alibaba to go into acquisition mode with its new bankroll of public money. This should make things very interesting for many of the institutional IT companies, because now there’s a rich new kid on the block with some real power competing for creative minds and intellectual property.
This kind of competition can only make the IT business world better. Right? Right.

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Key Service Attributes That Can Make or Break a Cloud Solution

Having a dependable cloud service or services is becoming increasingly strategic in running a successful 21st-century business. More companies are counting on cloud services for various aspects of their day-to-day business functions, such as handling travel expenses (Concur, for example), collaboration (Salesforce Chatter, Yammer and others), file sharing (Office 365) or simply syncing content across multiple devices. When evaluating cloud services, companies should focus on three key elements: 1) features; 2) pricing; and 3) one that is a little less apparent—service attributes. Cloud services can perform the required functions, but if the service is frequently down or has continual outages, can a company depend on it to deliver functionality when needed? This slide show, put together with eWEEK reporting and an industry perspective from Arthur Chang, CEO of unified cloud services provider PanTerra Networks, calls out the top service attributes that companies should keep in mind when looking at cloud services.

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