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Friday Briefing: Microsoft is Going Social

Happy Friday! It’s time to look forward to the weekend, enjoy Louis Basenese’s breakdown of the market through charts and get your weekly dose of tech news.

Like I’ve mentioned before, from here on out, I’ll by skipping the lengthier tech articles and piecing together a brief sampling of a few technology trends I’m following closely right now.

Remember to cast your vote in the survey at the end, though. As this lets us know which story has you tuned in most. And if one story gets an unusually high amount of votes, I’ll expand it into a full article next week.

Let’s get right to it.

Tech Trend #1: Microsoft Trumps Google in Social Search

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has revealed its upcoming social feature for its Bing search engine. Essentially, as you enter a search query, a sidebar to the right will pull up related information from your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ feeds, along with recent activity from the social networks.

The idea behind this is that Bing is marketed as a “decision engine,” not just a search engine. And Microsoft says, “Research tells us that 90% of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision – whether it’s something as simple as which train will take you uptown or who is the best dentist in Boulder, other people are often the most trusted source of information.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has already incorporated a social layer into its own search engine, focusing on Google+. However, it’s not nearly as interactive as Microsoft’s offering appears to be. Not to mention, as Business Insider says, “The big problem with this is that Google doesn’t offer info from other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, as prominently. And some data from those networks isn’t available through Google at all because Google didn’t sign the business deals it needs to get them.”

Since Microsoft has inked these deals, however, it makes its social layer much more useful and appealing, which could turn out to be bad news for Google’s bottom line.

Tech Trend #2: The Days of the Dentist Drill Are Numbered

Researchers at the University of Maryland have engineered a new nanocomposite that could eventually save you from going under the dentist drill. The material is made up of calcium phosphate nanoparticles that can actually regrow tooth minerals to fill in cavities. Better yet, it also contains silver nanoparticles that destroy any lingering bacteria found within the tooth.

Such a discovery could be huge, since having the tooth regrow decayed sections is obviously far superior to simply filling the cavity, which could cause complications down the road. The only problem is that evidence suggests the silver nanoparticles used to kill the bacteria aren’t safe for humans to consume.

So until the researchers finish up their human and animal trials with the material and prove that it’s safe, don’t expect to see silver nanoparticle toothpaste in stores anytime soon.

Tech Trend #3: MasterCard and Visa Enter the NFC Payment Fray

I’ve mentioned before that when it comes to mobile payment applications using NFC, Isis was quickly shaping up to be the one to beat. One main reason was because it had every major credit card company on board. While its main competitor, Google Wallet, had only teamed up officially with MasterCard (NYSE: MA). So while Isis could be used to make payments at stores with NFC terminals from both Visa (NYSE: V) and MasterCard, Google Wallet users are limited to retailers with MasterCard’s PayPass technology alone.

But it looks like access to the NFC readers is about as far as these partnerships go, since the card companies are working on digital wallets of their own with MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet Services and Visa’s V.me.

The fact that the partners of the current NFC champions are branching off with their own services shows just how crowded the space is becoming. And when adoption of the payment technology picks up in general, it’s only going to get worse.

No matter how many competitors join the fray, you can bet the offering that allows us to actually leave our wallet at home will win out in the end.

Cast Your Vote!

Let us know which topic interested you the most…

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That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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