I've spent some quality time with Microsoft's new search engine this week, and it's definitely worth a look. To really give Bing a chance, make it your home page and/or default search engine for a while. It's not the same to do just a few "play" searches; use it for your day-to-day search needs and compare them to Google every once in a while.

Dave Methvin, Contributor

June 3, 2009

2 Min Read

I've spent some quality time with Microsoft's new search engine this week, and it's definitely worth a look. To really give Bing a chance, make it your home page and/or default search engine for a while. It's not the same to do just a few "play" searches; use it for your day-to-day search needs and compare them to Google every once in a while.In many of my real-life searches, Bing did give better results than Google. For example, I was trying to figure out why Microsoft's DeleteUrl method didn't work. Google's search had the answer in the third slot, but the Bing search nailed it with the first result. (Here's the punch line: Microsoft says "This behavior is by design" and the DeleteUrl method isn't supposed to actually delete URLs.)

There are plenty of glitzy features as well. You can preview the content of the results pages just by hovering over a preview dot to the right of each result. In an image search, hovering over an image result gives you a menu that lets you search for similar images, although it wasn't always that good about finding visual similarities. Image search features an "infinite scrollbar" that continues to fill the page with new images as you scroll down. Video search has thumbnails of the actual videos that play when you hover over them. That's a bit surprising, and perhaps even annoying if you're working within earshot of others.

Microsoft has built a great search engine, but the company still has an uphill climb with Bing. Most people have already gotten comfortable with whatever they are using. As nice as Bing's features are, it's not clear that they're so superior that many people will switch. Microsoft may have to combine great searches with other incentives that bring users to Bing and get them to stick with it for long enough to fall in love with it.

There's also a bit of irony in Bing's liberal use of search content, even to the point of playing videos without leaving the search page. The book Burning the Ships closes with an anti-Google attack, including this statement by Tom Rubin, Microsoft's Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property Strategy: "First, journalists, authors, and publishers must reclaim from search engines the control of their own branded, copyrighted content." Yet it seems like Bing is trying to out-Google Google in that department, just in case the whole IP thing doesn't work out. I guess you can't blame Microsoft for playing all the angles.

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