How many people actually use Bing? I mean, I'm sure there are people who use it religiously, I just prefer Google. But what I think doesn't matter right now because Bing users can rejoice (or cringe) because if you head over to Bing right now, you will find that the service has an all new layout. That's right, the search engine has slapped on a fresh coat of paint and added some new things to test on the Bing community.

The Bing Team just announced that the latest version of the search engine is now available for every single Bing user in the United States. Microsoft had announced a couple of weeks ago that Bing would be getting an update, promising to deliver it to the entire U.S. "in due time". For once, a company has actually made a promise and made good on it. Is this the dawn of a new era of company trust and customer loyalty? Probably not, but it's still nice.

The new face of Bing is definitely a noticeable difference from the old look. Users will now find a three-column layout. The left column includes search results, the center column (known as "Snapshot" by Microsoft) is designed to give users relevant information and services that are related to web results and the right column (or "Sidebar") adds some social features like an activity feed for Facebook updates and the ability to ask your friends questions.

According to a blog post that Microsoft released last month detailing the changes, "Whether it's making a purchase, deciding on a vacation destination, choosing a great restaurant, or figuring out which movie to see this weekend, the new Bing focuses on bringing friends, experts and enthusiasts into your search experience through a dedicated social 'sidebar'."

Reports are coming in from people who have already started using the new layout and the response was generally positive. Many people are praising the responsiveness of the the new Bing, though there are some disappointments with the lack of content offered. According to Rafe Needleman of CNET, "I expect that as this socially enabled version of Bing matures, Microsoft (and Facebook) will figure out a way to layer in more and better content. But I expect a more useful offering for a major update to social search from a partnership between tech giants Microsoft and Facebook."

If you are an avid Bing user then head on over to the search engine right now and take the new layout for a spin. Then come back here and tell us what you think. Do you like the new three-column structure? Are the social features cool or pointless? Do you believe that there is a general lack of content? We want to know everything you think about the new and improved Bing so let us know!

Source: CNET - New-look Bing hits U.S., but will it satisfy?
READ MORE - Bing Gets Updated, Only the U.S. Has Access to New Style
Microsoft had a nifty back to school special last year that awarded customers a brand new Xbox 360 with the purchase of any new Windows PC. Well, it seems as though the promotion was a success, enough of one at least to make the company want to do it again this year as well. Starting on Sunday, May 20, U.S. students who buy a new Windows 7 PC will also receive a free Xbox 360 as well.

The deal doesn't just apply to U.S. students, however, as Canadian students also qualify for the deal which started on the 18th. In order to be eligible you will have to be a high school or college student with proof of status, like a campus ID or an email address that ends in .edu. If you qualify, you will receive a 4GB Xbox 360 with the purchase of a Windows PC for $699 or more. If you're a Canadian student, you only have to buy a $599 PC.

The Xbox that students will receive is Microsoft's current $199 console, which is the lowest priced model the company offers and the one that doesn't come with a Kinect motion sensor. Best Buy was the only retailer partner that Microsoft paired with for the offer the last time, though the company has greatly increased their partners this time around. In the U.S. Microsoft is partnering with Best Buy and Fry's Electronics while the company will be teaming up with Best Buy, Future Shop, Staples and The Source in Canada. You can also get the deal online through Dell, HP and Newegg in the U.S. and through Dell in Canada.

If you happen to live close to an actual Microsoft store, you can also get the deal there as well. There are 21 Microsoft stores currently open (or expected to open in the summer), all of which are located in the United States. Microsoft's online store will also support the deal. Also new this year is the amount of control Microsoft has left in the hands of the retailers. This means that the deal won't last the same amount of time for every retailer so make sure you check your dates before you go in for the deal.

Source: PC World - Buy a Windows 7 PC, Get an Xbox
READ MORE - Microsoft's Summer Xbox Deal Is Back!