Bing and Baidu to provide English language search in China
Microsoft is understood to have signed a deal with China's leading search provider that will be seen as something of a coup in its rivalry with Google.
Baidu has a dominant market share in China, controlling something like 75 per cent of searches.
According to media reports, Baidu will now be working with Microsoft's Bing to provide tighter results for Chinese users who search in English.
Baidu is apparently seeing growing demand for English language searches and wants to improve the quality and relevance of its results.
Bing's partnership with Baidu follows Google's exit from the Chinese search market last year.
The Mountain View company clashed repeatedly with the Chinese government over censorship requirements before finally deciding to withdraw.
Relations remain frosty, with China recently accusing Google of becoming a "political tool for slandering other countries" after a fresh row erupted over attempts to hack the Gmail accounts of high-profile individuals in the US. Google said the attack originated in Jinan, in China's Shandong province.
It seems unlikely that Google will be able to return to China any time soon – at least not officially. That means the world's largest search provider will be unable to tap into the massive spending power of China's growing middle class.
While Microsoft may face some criticism on the censorship issue, its deal with Baidu will help the Chinese search provider fill the void left by Google.
Baidu not only dominates China's search market, it is also the country's most popular site across all categories and it is the sixth most popular site globally, according to Alex.com.