Microsoft revealed on 10th February that its Bing search engine will now automatically convert currency denominations to BTC in response to simple commands.
The move is notable as it could represent a willingness on the part of Microsoft to embrace bitcoin. Further, the decision could force Google, the world's most popular search engine, to update its own currency converter.
Microsoft moves toward bitcoin
Microsoft, one of the world's largest software companies, has been silent on bitcoin, though its researchers have been studying it for some time.
Notably, the Washington-based company discontinued its own in-house virtual currency system last year. Before its demise, Microsoft Points allowed users to purchase games and media content on products such as Windows Phones and Xbox consoles.
Bing's BTC conversions will first be available in Australia, Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the United States, before debuting in additional markets.
Bill Gates sidesteps bitcoin questions
The announcement occurred on the same day Microsoft co-founder and technology adviser Bill Gates participated in an Ask Me Anything reddit discussion in which he was asked about his thoughts on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
Gates did answer, but did not weigh in with Microsoft's position on bitcoin. Rather, he reiterated that his nonprofit, the Gates Foundation, believes that 'digital money' services such as Kenya's M-Pesa mobile service will continue to grow, especially in the developing world over the next five years. Gates elaborated:
"The foundation is involved in digital money, but unlike bitcoin it would not be anonymous digital money."
Google's next move
The decision by Bing could put pressure on Google, which has been similarly silent on all matters bitcoin, though obtained emails suggest that the company is at least taking a passive interest despite its PR silence.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.