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Microsoft's Bing 411 offers phone numbers, directions over the phone

Bing 411You probably heard that Microsoft launched a new search engine called Bing today. What you might have missed is the fact that the company also launched Bing 411, a free service which is a direct competitor to Google's GOOG 411.

Here's how it works. You dial 1-800-Bing 411 (1-800-246-4411) from any phone and tell the friendly computer voice what city and state you're looking for information in. Then give it a name and Bing 411 will attempt to locate an address and phone number. You can have the service connect you, give you the phone number, or give you directions over the phone or via text message.

The service works pretty well. I was able to get driving directions from my home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Microsoft's corporate campus in Redmond, Washington. Surprisingly, it only takes 28 steps, but Bing 411 helpfully told me it would take two days to drive all 2700 miles.

You can also use Bing 411 to get traffic reports, find movie showtimes, or listen to weather forecasts. Weather, traffic, and directions are only available in the US.

I did somehow manage to cause a glitch in the Bing at one point. The digital voice went into a little feedback loop and said the same words three or four times before correcting itself. But for a product that just launched today, I was pretty impressed with Bing 411.

[via TechCrunch]

Tags: bing, bing-411, goog-411