Microsoft Bing, Redmond’s latest search engine to challenge Google’s crown, is now live, ready and waiting for you to test. Want to know how it’s been working so far? Read on for our first impressions.
Microsoft confirmed Bing, its brand new “decision engine” was coming late last week, but we only had a placeholder over at Bing.com. Now though the Bing search engine is live, and while some of the features impress, we’re not always getting the results we hoped for.
Heading on over to the home page, the Bing search bar sits in a large picture which presumably changes daily. It’s attractive, and despite the absurdity of the name, it is short and easy to remember. Search results looks just like they do in any big search engine, and on the plus side, we like the relevant search terms appearing in the left hand column: it’s certainly a quicker way to jog your memory than mincing around with the Google Wonder Wheel, even if it doesn’t appear for every term you search.
The location sensing of Bing is a great touch too. Typing in weather brings up the forecast for the exact borough of London where we’re working, which is hands down win over Google. On the images tab Bing nicely offers search filters on the side you’d have to dive into Google Image advanced search for, and videos play in the thumbnail as you hover over them. On all these counts, Bing excels.
But we’re not getting the information we’d like to see thrown up when we type in a heavily searched for product, like iPhone 3G or Palm Pre: just a few sponsored links at the top. Ditto when you type in Australia: no statistical info on the country, unlike Wolfram Alpha, which will shovel everything you could ever need to know in your face.
The pop up preview pane meanwhile is a very useful touch, but rarely seems to work (We tested Bing on both Firefox and Opera), and Maps integration within the main Bing results page leave a little to be desired too. Typing in “ealing hospital” brings up a dentist, nursing home and entirely unrelated shop on the map, rather than the hospital itself.
Other obvious problems present themselves too: Microsoft has realised that Google locks in users by providing other services like mail and maps across the top nav bar. Bing attempts this with images, video, shopping and news tabs across the top, and while that’s no bad thing, the shopping tab is just a link to Ciao. Again, searching for an iPhone 3G on it just throws up some iPhone cases, and more importantly, the only way to get back to Bing is by hitting the back button. Google doesn’t do away with the navbar at the top, which is a dealbreaker in our mind.
We’re impressed with some of the touches Microsoft has put in to Bing – but all the loveliest bells and whistles have been saved for sub-sections like Videos. The main text search option offers little so far that Google doesn’t, and with the powerful Google Squared tool on the way, that could make Google’s lead hard to close on. It’s early days though, so be sure to jump on and test Bing for yourself.
Out Now | £free | Bing