Microsoft has unveiled the most wide-reaching update to its Bing search engine since launching three years ago, with a new social sidebar.

The sidebar will include links from an array of social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

Microsoft said it had developed the update based on feedback from user research that showed that 60 per cent of web users were not certain that their searches gave the best possible results.

The updated Bing will also feature a cleaner interface, removing the left-hand panel that was used to display related searches and search history and moving some of that information to the top of the page.

The main body of search results will now appear on the left-hand side of the results page, with a middle column dedicated to Bing's so-called snapshots.