File Under: HTML5, Web Standards

Microsoft Taps HTML5 to Add Zing to Bing

As part of the launch event to show off the new Internet Explorer 9 beta, Microsoft also demoed a new version of its Bing search engine that uses HTML5 and CSS 3 to spice up Bing’s homepage and search results.

During the demo, Bing developers showed off a version of the search engine that uses the HTML5′s video tag to take Bing’s well-known background images a step further, replacing the static image with a video of waves crashing on the beach. Another new feature, using the Canvas element, will allow you to zoom around a very large image.

The revamped version of Bing will launch in October. Microsoft is still tweaking some of the code, but its demo at the launch event was already complete enough to impress.

Other tricks up Bing’s sleeve include some fancy transitions between search types — nice sliding and fading transitions between tabs (presumably done using CSS 3 transitions) — and other visual touches, like animated backgrounds for weather forecasts and auto-expanding search results.

Some of Bing’s coming enhancements have been in the works for quite a while. Microsoft previously demoed some of the background effects and other visual touches at Apple’s WWDC in June 2010.

Beyond the eye candy, Bing also has one pretty cool new feature — the ability to see slideshows from image search results. And here’s the best part of the new slideshow: it replaces Bing’s current Silverlight-based slideshow with an HTML5/CSS3-based version. Yes, Microsoft has ditched its own proprietary technology for something using open, standards-based technology.

Some of what’s in the video can be a little confusing. For example, why Microsoft thinks it needs “HTML5″ to keep Bing’s tabs at the top of the screen when in fact the CSS rule position:fixed has been widely supported for nearly ten years now is unclear.

But despite the marketing-speak tendency to refer to everything in the new Bing as HTML5 — which Apple and Google are also both occasionally guilty of — both the Bing and IE9 teams seem genuinely enthused about the possibilities of HTML5.

In theory, all of Bing’s new features should work in any modern web browser, not just the coming Internet Explorer 9. However, given the continual references to “leveraging the power of IE 9′s hardware acceleration,” it’s highly possible the new Bing may be a bit slower in Safari and Chrome, which, thus far, lack the depth of hardware acceleration found in the Firefox 4 and IE9 beta releases.

Microsoft says to expect the Bing changes “in about a month.”

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