Bing: The Next Generation Search Engine
Search engines have come and gone over the last decade, but it is no secret that there has only been one that has dominated the web. Google not only boasts an impressive 75% market share of all internet search traffic, but it has become a household verb that represents the answer to all of life’s mysteries.
What is the address to Vinnie’s Pizza? What year was the Magna Carta signed? Where did Angelina Jolie go on vacation? How long does it take to drive from St Louis to Chicago?
“I don’t know, Google it,” is the universal solution that most anyone with a computer has done hundreds if not thousands of times.
Microsoft‘s release of its new search engine Bing is an aggressive move to get in the way of Google’s domination in the internet search industry. Coined by Microsoft as, “A Better Way to Search,” Bing implements several enhancements in its search engine that will have both casual internet surfers and well seasoned internet veterans alike, rethinking their unconscious reliance on Google. (Although “Binging” something doesn’t seem nearly as catchy).
As a self-proclaimed professional Googler, I know what most of you are probably thinking. Many have tried and failed and failed to do what Google has done. When was the last time you used Lycos, Hotbot, or Dogpile? How about Windows Live Search? Chances are that even if you have heard of these that you haven’t used them more than once or twice.
So what does Bing offer that might just get you to rethink how you look up information on the web? First, Bing has a fresh, visually appealing interface. When you pull up the current homepage, there is a vibrant picture of a street in Stockholm, Sweden with a search bar at the top of the page. Start typing in the box, and like its Google counterpart, a list of suggestions drops down below to complete your query. This is where the similarities with Bing and Google end, however. While Google’s complex algorithms are able to produce consistently relevant results, Bing attempts to outdo the competition by grouping results in a well organized, logical way.
I typed in “Shaquille O’Neal” as a random search with Bing to see the results. I was immediately impressed. A picture of Shaq appeared with his #32 and Phoenix Suns affiliation. There was a synopsis of his season stats and a small box with data from his last three games with the Suns. Although this brief synopsis was helpful, the box that appears directly to the left of the search results is even more impressive. The colored box contains “intelligent” words that allow you to quickly toggle through sub-categories of relevant information. In Shaq’s case the box contains the words, “Biography, Fan Club, Trade, Movies, Wallpaper, News, Images, and Videos.” Clicking on any of these words brings up a new page with search results tailored to that sub-category. It is easy to navigate, and surprisingly fast. Another enjoyable feature allows you to have an extended preview of the webpage without ever leaving the Bing browser. Simply move your mouse pointer to the right of the search results and box is instantly overlaid before your eyes. An identical search in Google, pulled up many of the same webpages, but it lacked the cool extras like the stats and the ability to quickly organize the results.
Bing wants to be your one stop shop for all of your information needs. It contains a similar interface for searching for images, videos, shopping, news, hotel and flight bookings, as well clear and concise health information. Using the same features highlighted above, Bing organizes health related questions so that your results are presented with reputable medical sites listed first. That way, your questions about back pain or constipation are more likely going to be answered by a doctor or nurse instead of that guy from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” that sprays you with Windex.
Lastly, Bing incorporates some new technology that allows you to watch previews of videos directly from the browser without ever leaving the site. This is definitely a cool feature; however, it comes with a word of caution. Although Bing does incorporate a content filter that is set to moderate by default, it is easy enough to stumble across pornographic or other risqué content accidentally or with little effort. As a father, it is important to make sure that you have appropriate guidelines and supervision set up with your children BEFORE they browse the internet with ANY browser.
So what’s the bottom line? While it is not very likely that Google will be stepping down anytime soon from its position as ruler of the internet, Bing is the first debut browser that offers a set of impressive features that could begin to force Google to continue innovating in order to stay on top. In fact, the rumors on the blogosphere seem to suggest that Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, was “rattled” by Bing’s launch and has since ordered “urgent upgrades” to Google. Speculation? Hearsay? Perhaps, but Bing at least deserves an honest look before you go back to Googling how to replace that kitchen faucet or directions to that new restaurant in town.