Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Facebook today expanded their partnership by unveiling a feature that lets users of Microsoft's Bing search engine find websites preferred by their Facebook friends.

The new feature allows Bing users to see pictures of their Facebook friends next to certain Websites those people said they "liked" on their Facebook pages, the companies said today.

"This new signal will allow us to do a better and more comprehensive job predicting what resources and content are most relevant to you because, in addition to all the other signals we use, other people you trust have found them interesting," wrote Satya Nadella, senior vice President, online services division at Microsoft, in a blog post today. "It means better, more personal search experiences and better tools and input to help you make decisions."

The companies hope to boost usership by developing features that cut through Internet clutter.

Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, seeks to close the gap between Bing and search-engine leader Google Inc. (GOOG). Last month, Google had a 66% market share of U.S. searches, compared to 11% for Microsoft sites, ComScore said earlier today.

Meanwhile, Facebook is adding features to try to extend its lead over MySpace as the biggest player in the rapidly-growing social-networking space. Facebook in August was the fourth-most popular U.S. web property, behind only sites collectively owned by Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Google and Microsoft, ComScore said last month.

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