Local search now available in Windows Phone 7 for French users

Microsoft has just announced that Bing is now finally out of beta in France so the first thing I did was to try it out on Windows Phone 7 to see if anything has changed, especially Local Search. Like I said in yesterday’s news about the rumored April 11th update; I was told that this feature will be enabled in H1 2011 and that it wouldn’t necessarily require an OS update on the WP7 handsets being used in France (or another country outside of the US which already has all these features enabled). Turns out that this may have been wrong (no surprise here…never fully trust what a company spokesperson tells you..) because as off right now the only way to get local search in Bing (in UK and now in France) on WP7 is to set your the Browser & Search region to US. This leads me to believe that their may be some truth to the April 11th update that Orange France is talking about.

So what’s really new? Well not much. Prior to today’s updated service I was already able to search for some local businesses, restaurants, hotels but there’s now a bit more content available and also user reviewers thanks to a partnership with pagesjaunes.fr (yellow pages). Result can be somewhat inconsistent too (you find more result if you search directly in Bing Maps and not in Bing Search) and big businesses like Pizza Hut are obviously in the database but for some odd reason can’t be shown on the map (same issue on Bing Maps on the Desktop). We are still far from the gigantic amount of content available in Google Maps but it’s a first step I guess. Microsoft should be able to fix this lack of POIs in the near future when it finally integrates Nokia’s Ovi Maps assets into Bing and Bing Maps. So, If you are located in France just set up your Search language to US and do the test.