Microsoft Bing Review
Google and Microsoft have been chomping at each other’s markets for the past half decade or more. Nowadays, you start finding Microsoft’s presence on the web, while Google is beginning to leave the confines of the Internet into the desktop market (i.e. Google Chrome OS). Recently however, Microsoft attempts to rival Google’s biggest asset, the search engine market. In only a matter of years, Google overthrew every other search engine to become the dominant force on the web, and now Microsoft wants a piece of it. The question is: Is Microsoft’s entry, Bing.com, actually a contender to Google Search? Is the search engine really worth around a $100 million in advertisment alone? We’ll see.
The moment you hit enter on your address bar, you are greeted with a small window with a small search bar and a high-resolution, appealing photo. These pictures change on a daily basis and can often entice users to check the URL daily to see the new picture. In other words, Bing.com’s homescreen is pretty, and is also quite inviting. The only unfortunate thing about the homescreen is that nobody has a real need for visiting this site. Ever since Firefox came out, visiting the search engine homescreen was made obsolete by the search bar being integrated into the browser. With that, there will only be two kinds of people who have to go to this main screen: those who use Internet Explorer 6 or older <gasp>, and those who use Safari and would rather use Bing over the hotwired Google Search Bar. Of course, these are somewhat extreme conditions and only represent a very small minority of the browser population.
Now, let’s go to the real job: searching! Like every other search engine, either from the main screen or through a search bar, all that is needed is to type the words and hit enter. To demonstrate, I will give a scenario: I have been tracking Doom Classic for the iPhone and iPod Touch ever since it’s announcement, and now I am looking for some updates. With that, I will type in “Doom Classic for iPhone” and see what I get.
The results are in. Bing presents the results in a nice, organized manner. In addition, these results are ad-free at the moment, so it won’t overwhelm you with junk links. Another cool feature is that when you hover your cursor over a result, a line with an orange dot will appear on the right side. Hovering over the orange dot will reveal some nice extras that include text from the link relevant to the search topic, and sometimes, external links to other potentially relevant articles. This feature could potentially save time, especially when it comes to checking if the site is relevant before actually entering it. While the links given were pretty much accurate to the search topic, Bing often gets confused with link priority. In the case of the demonstration, second-hand articles of Doom Classic came first before the first-hand source, which is the fifth link listed. In rare cases, even obvious sites (such as the main site of a given company) is not even listed on the first page. Of course, these are rare cases and shouldn’t happen often.
What probably makes Bing very unique from Google is the image search. I would be lying if I said I didn’t like Bing’s image search. While I never really complained about Google’s Image Search, Bing’s take on it surprised me by giving me an interface that I didn’t think would be convenient. The biggest thing you’ll notice with Image Search is that all image results are presented on only one page. Bing also provides some interesting image results one doesn’t easily find on Google, yet these images are still relevant to a certain extent. Filtering tools are also provided at the side, always there when needed. One of the better features is that when you click on one of the images, not only does it show the thumbnail on top with a preview of the page at the bottom, on the side, other image thumbnails are provided so that one can easily jump to another page preview without having to return to the main image search page. Clicking on these thumbnails also opens a new tap, so you don’t have to always click the back button. This can potentially save a lot of time, and makes opening multiple pages a snap.
In total, I think that Bing is quite a sophisticated search engine. It’s specialty lies in its ability to preview pages and automatically open pages in new tabs to save just a little more time. While search results can be inconsistent, this happens seldom, and Bing is becoming more and more accurate in bringing in relevant results. While it is by far the prettiest search engine I have seen, it can surely do better than entice people with attractive pictures. While Bing is very robust at this point in development, I doubt it actually needed Microsoft to spend hundreds of millions on advertisement.
If you ask me if I do use Bing, I will say Yes, but not as my default engine. The pretty pictures can be quite distracting, since it gets in the way of the main purpose of finding results. Also, I usually use Bing only when I feel Google isn’t bringing out the articles or images I need. Another thing that keeps me in Google is that it’s the engine stuck with Safari, and I don’t want to mod Safari just so that it can use the search bar for an engine I don’t use regularly. However, this is only personal reference and I way for me to reduce surfing time on Safari, so I am totally not stopping you to switch to Bing. I think it’s great and that it will hopefully only get better in the future.