Friday, June 12, 2009

Some insight into Bing, and why you may actually like it

Not all search engines are created equal, if they were Google wouldn’t have over 60% of the worlds search market. But is Bing a Google killer or just another search with a few gimmicks?

At first glance, Microsoft’s replacement looks surprisingly familiar. It has a search box in the middle of the screen, some links along the top to sign in or create an account and other links that access "images, videos, shopping, news, maps and travel." So, upon first look, it seems that Microsoft spent 100 million dollars to create… Google! But this is really where the similarities stop.

Bing is livened up by a crisp background image that links to some interesting facts and videos about the pictures when you rollover certain areas. Neat, but it is not exactly going to make Bing the search engine of choice.

So how about their search results?

Search results are displayed in the same format as Google and even their results are similar. When I searched for "Kyocera Kansas City" Tekniq popped up as #1 on both search engines. But on Bing I was able to hover my mouse over a little symbol to the right of the results and see a text preview of the page and what the page links to. This little feature could be handy, but with high speed internet it’s probably just faster to click and go to the site to see it yourself.

So where does it really excel?

Bing may be similar in appearance and functionality to Google for searching, but where Bing really dazzles is with its other programs.

1)Bing Images
Bing allows for better image searching and displaying. You can customize the layout of the images and there is no flipping through pages to see more results, simply scroll down and more images appear.

Bing also has a "Show similar Images" link on every image. This is great for finding the type of image you want. So if you want an image of a person talking on a phone, you can type in "phone" and then find the image that you want and click "Show similar images" and you will see more like that image.

2)Bing Videos
Bing has a searchable video service that has video’s from youtube, ABC, BBC and other sites. It also has a quick preview feature where you can roll over the video and it will start streaming it immediately so you can preview the video before even clicking on it.

3)Bing Shopping with cashback
Perhaps one of the best features that Bing has is their shopping feature. It is easy to use and similar to Google shopping but they have a cashback program that pays you up to 10% for buying from certain vendors.

Some of their prices seem to correspond to the wrong products, but one can only assume that it is because the service is new. If they fix this then why would you ever shop online any other way?

4)Bing Maps
Bing’s mapping feature is leftover from But if you have never checked it out, I think you may be impressed. It has great satellite and areal imagery that let you view your house from all four angles instead of just a bird’s eye view. It also has a plug-in that you can install to access true 3d mapping.

Though it doesn’t have an answer to Google Streets, it is still a nice tool and good in its own right.

Bing really does deliver some impressive features without losing what most love about Google. If Google doesn’t respond to some of these features by making changes of their own, then Bing may be something to reckon with. My guess is that Google responds in a big way and is able to leverage their name to once again increase their market. But for now, Bing may be the search engine of choice.