Microsoft has given its Bing search engine a cosmetic makeover complete with new features, a redesigned logo and a modern design. The changes are expected to help Microsoft better compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo, the latter of which also revealed a redesigned homepage and a new logo over the past several months.

Bing's changes aren't just skin deep, however, as new features like Page Zero aim to not only speed up search results but make them smarter. As explained by Lawrence Ripsher, general manager of user experiences for Bing, Page Zero helps a user get an answer or take an action before they even see the first results page. This is done by showing users key tasks associated with a query as they are typing.

Ripsher says this not only provides important information and services quickly, it also allows users to see what kinds of things they can explore on Bing and across the web.

The executive gave an example of someone searching for Katy Perry. As the user types, Bing understands they are looking for information on the singer and offers up auto-suggested search tasks associated with her.

Elsewhere, Microsoft is also introducing a new surface area at the top of the page called Pole Position. It's here that Bing will display results when it is confident it knows exactly what a user is searching for. The new feature can, for example, provide images of a celebrity, a specific fact or a detailed view of the weather in a particular city. Microsoft says this space will be rapidly evolving to enable users to take an action or dig deeper into a particular topic.

Microsoft said the improvements as a whole are just the beginning of a new, modern era for the search engine.