Microsoft on Tuesday introduced the latest update to its plucky come-from-behind search engine, Bing, offering specialized results for music, TV, movies, and games. (CNET's Ina Fried has the full details.)
On the music front, Bing now offers playable search results: users can play a full-length version of each song once, and 30-second samples after that. The feature is similar to what Google introduced in October, provided by partner iLike. (Google also had a partnership with Lala, but Apple acquired that company in December and discontinued its online music-streaming service in May.)
If you like the song, you can then purchase the MP3 from the Zune Marketplace over the Web--a first for Microsoft. (Previously, you had to launch the Zune application.) You can also purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. Google only lets you buy from its partner iLike.
Bing's music search results beat Google in some other ways as well: artist results contain embedded biographies, a list of albums (click through and you get full song listings for each album, with embedded playback for songs that Microsoft has licensed), and--where available--lyrics licensed from LyricFind. The lyrics are displayed on a Bing subpage, meaning that you'll never have to click through to one of those random third-party lyrics sites, which are usually infested with annoying pop-up ads and other nasties.
Correction, 2:20 p.m., June 23: This post initially mischaracterized the playback restrictions on the songs delivered via Bing's new music search feature. Users will be able to play full-length songs only once, then will receive 30-second samples.