Microsoft recently confirmed that it would be updating many of the built-in apps in Windows 8 between the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the OS and its general availability on October 26. Here’s a peek at the changes the firm just made to its Metro-style Bing app.

I wrote about this app updating confirmation in Windows 8: Updates Coming to Built-In Apps after having been speaking about (on podcasts) and writing (here and in Windows 8 Secrets) for months about Microsoft’s plans to do just this.

Here’s what’s new in the Bing app.

Bing Rewards integration

In the latest version of the Bing app (build 214), a prominent Bing Rewards button appears to the right of the search bar. This button was not present in the RTM version of this app (build 137). You can use this button to sign into Bing Rewards and tie search queries to your Rewards account, so you won’t need to use a web browser to obtain rewards.

bing-rewards-integration

Search result zoom: See related queries

In the RTM version of the Bing app, the semantic zoom function would provide a simple related searches grid.

zoom before

With this update, related searches are called out in a far more graphical way, and a new related topics area provides even more related information.

bing-semantic-zoom-after

File picker integration for images

Bing image search results can now be accessed via the system-wide, Metro-style file picker, so you can now access these images from other Metro-style apps and experiences. For example, you can now choose Bing as a target for images you might apply to the lock screen: Just navigate to PC Settings, Personalize, Lock screen and click Browse. In the file picker interface that appears, choose Bing from the drop-down list:

bing-file-picker-01

Then, navigate through the Bing web image search results that appear and choose the image you like.

bing-file-picker-02

Better local and image search results?

Microsoft said that this Bing update would include improved local and image search results. But I don’t see any differences between this new release and the RTM version of the Bing app (beyond the previously mentioned new search result zoom functionality).

bing-local-after

Bing image of the day features

Update:  A number of readers have pointed out that the new version of Bing offers some interesting new features related to the Bing image of the day, which can be seen when the app first loads: Just enable the app bar (WINKEY + Z) and you can copy the image to the clipboard, save it to disk (1366 x 768 resolution) or set it as your lock screen image. Nice!

bing-save-as

Likewise, Ugo K. tells me that you can now swipe back on the Bing image of the day to see (and, yes, download), previous images. Also nice!

Is there more?

Have I missed anything? If you see any new features in the Metro-style Bing app, please let me know and I’ll update this article.