Feeds

Microsoft's Bing feeds you, tries to keep you captive

Fully featured Google inertia beater?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Money searches

Many of Bing's best features are reserved for users who look as if they might spend money. Search for "New York restaurant", for example, and you get an instant answer listing. Click Local, and you can sort by rating, price, cuisine and more. Click a restaurant name, and you get ratings in numerous categories, reviews, map, opening hours and telephone number, all without leaving Bing. Other areas of special focus are shopping and travel. Ratings and reviews are not derived from the whole web, but only from a few trusted partners and aggregators.

One feature common to all Bing results lists, even in the UK, is a quick preview that appears on mouse rollover, which makes it easier to tell whether the link is worth clicking. Preview is also used to good effect in video results, even if there are unfortunate side effects when it comes to porn - seriously, didn't anybody inside Microsoft see that one coming? Preview plays for 30 seconds in thumbnails within the page.

NY restaurants search

Restaurant searches pull back contact details, ratings, reviews and directions

You can also play the entire video within the top half of the Bing result page. Webmasters can apparently disallow these preview features if they would rather users came to their own site immediately, and it will not be a surprise if many of them do just that. Google might not welcome users enjoying the full range of YouTube videos without leaving Bing.

Returning to the original question, how good is Bing? I tried around a dozen searches and compared Bing's results to those in Google. Most results seemed about equal in quality, though I preferred Google in a couple of cases. That said, Bing's site preview helped greatly in checking out the links without navigating away from the page. It seems a substantial improvement over the old Live Search, and a credible alternative to the market leader.

Like every search engine, Bing can get the user's intent spectacularly wrong at times. Bing has a mobile version, m.bing.com, on which I searched for Windows Mobile. At the top of the results were glass companies in the city of Mobile in the US state of Alabama.

Bing's biggest problem is that Google is more than good enough, and most users will not bother to switch. Further, Google experts will know that it already has features that match some of what Bing does, like best match site summaries, an options pane, and a related search pane.

Google does the same trick with weather searches as Bing while Web Groups in Bing are to a large extent related searches in disguise. And, if Bing does take off then its tendency to keep users on the search page, driving fewer hits to the source sites, will not be popular with publishers or sites that rely on clicks for money.

Still, Bing surpasses expectations and its preview feature is actually useful. Overall, surprisingly good.®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.