After months of beta testing, Microsoft has finally launched their latest search engine, in replacement of the existing Live search ““ Bing.com. Many have said that this latest search engine is a great step forward (with respect to its previous Live search) and could possibly grab some of the market share back from Google. Let us walk you through the features of Bing and you may decide if it can bite against Google.
Different versions of Bing
Depending on your location, you will be served different versions of the Bing homepage. The one that provides the most interactive features is the USA English site. This is an interesting, yet confusing at the same time; but when you realize that this is just another Microsoft product, it is not surprising. I am not sure if Microsoft will implement the same interactivity in all the different versions in the future, but for now, we will be dealing mainly with the USA English site.
To access the US English site, you just have to change your country to USA in the top right hand corner.
Unlike Google, you will find a nice interactive image (that changes everyday) to greet you. The image contains several regions which when you hover your mouse above it, it will popup a small window showing some historical fact about the image. It is not too much use if your main purpose is to execute a search, but it is fun to learn a new random fact every now and then.
Bing comes with plenty of user interactivity. When you perform a search, you can hover your mouse over the orange orb at the right side of the search results to see a quick preview. On the left, there is a related-search column that shows a list of the popular searches similar to your search terms. This is a good way to expand your search without having to enter another search term.
When it comes to images search, Bing does a great job in displaying the images and minimize the effort required to view all the images. Instead of arranging the images in pages, Bing now loads the images on the fly. As you scroll down the page, Bing will fetch the images from its database and display on the screen. There are also plenty of options to customize the search results, such as size, layout, color, style and people.
As you hover your mouse above the image, a larger preview thumbnail of the images will pop up, and with some of its details.
For people outside of USA and are not able to watch Hulu TV, Bing video search allows you to watch a short preview of the video. Simply hover your mouse over the video and it will start to play a short clip of the video.
When you click on the video link, instead of bringing you to the video site, Bing will load the video as a frame within the search result page. Once you are done watching the video, simply close it and continue your search from there.
Shopping and Travel
Microsoft seems to have put in great effort to integrate the shopping and travel components into Bing. When you perform a search in the Shopping section, it will return results showing the product image, user ratings, price and Bing cashback percentages. Bing cashback is the new feature introduced in Bing that allows you to redeem a percentage of the product’s cost back as a discount (aka cashback). This is a new feature not found in any other search engines.
Bing also allows you to search for cheap flights and hotel stay.
If you are using IE 8, Bing can automatically create web slices from news page or stocks chart so that you can refer to them quickly and easily.
Will Bing be the next Google killer? In my opinion, probably not, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Microsoft has come up with plenty of new and useful features in Bing that could ruffle some of Google’s feathers. As more and more companies introduce innovative and interactive features, the mass public (people like you and me) are definitely the ones who are going to benefit. What do you think? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Similarly, you can also check out Wolfram Alpha for a brand new kind of search experience.