You may have heard about Bing, a new search decision engine, that was recently released.  Miguel Carrasco, an MVP from my hometown of Winnipeg, got early access to Bing and wrote up this post on Bing, what it is, how it is different and I hope you give it a try.  As always we appreciate your feedback so send us an email or leave a comment!

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I’ve been following the search war for some time now and have been pretty much disappointed every time a company has come around and hyped their new search engine as the next big thing. When I first heard about Bing from Microsoft (Kumo), I was very skeptical. When I actually saw Bing, I was pumped. Pumped enough that within about 10 minutes, I switched my default search engine to Bing. The reason I was so pumped was because Microsoft listened to so much feedback from everyone, and hit a home run implementing many suggestions from users!

So if you are one of the users that have always wanted to see some major enhancements in search, and had to watch Google basically stop innovating on basic search, try out Bing! You will be pleasantly surprised to see all the little annoying things you wished were implemented in Google, are now in Bing! I realize I am really going out on limb by saying this, but Microsoft has created a search engine that is better than Google Search, and its only day one. Let’s go on a feature tour.

Feature Tour

I recently started getting into photography as a hobby and wanted a nice Digital SLR beginner camera, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. My quest online took a while. Reading different sources to get opinions, watching videos, and reading blogs took forever until I finally settled on a Nikon D60. One of the reasons it took forever was there seemed to be no way of finding all the data I wanted easily. Let’s try a search with Bing!

One of the most powerful features in Bing is that it is not your typical search engine that always looks the same. It is in fact an awesome decision making tool that tries to lead you to the right information right away. So when I search for a Nikon D60 on Bing, you get a really powerful screen full of information.

You’ll notice in the screen below that I get a picture of the camera, rated by ease of use, and size, and an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5. This data is actually gathered and aggregated from sources all over the web!

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You can then click on User Reviews, and get even more data on the camera, all from within Bing! The data that you get is awesome and allows you to make decisions on the camera very quickly.

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Along the left side you can also see a quick filter screen that allows you to filter your search results on various items. For my Camera search, I can now select Videos, Images, Lenses, Repair, Manual, Accessories, and more. In this case let’s choose Videos.

Videos are awesome in Bing. You can easily navigate through the list of videos, and hover over any video, to start watching it! You can even mute the audio if you like. The video search searches pretty much every major video source on the internet, and displays them in an easy to use interface. You don’t even have to go to the web site in order to view the video! It’s pretty cool to watch videos from site like YouTube and Soapbox all from within one interface and not have to hit the back button over and over!

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Why don’t we do another search now for Vancouver Olympics. A cool feature that I find really useful is the preview option. Simply hover over to the right of your search result, and a nice information bubble shows you information from the web site, without actually having to click on the listing! So for example in the case of the Vancouver Olympics, I get the official web site of the games. But maybe I want Ticket Information. Typically I would get lost on a site looking for the information. Bing has already found it for me.

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By hovering over to the right, I get a quick excerpt from the web site, as well as important links on the web site itself. I can select from Accessibility, Media Centre, Athletes and Sports, Competition Schedule, and Ticketing Information.

The last two features I wanted to focus on are image searching, and the new filtering tabs. Let’s search or Vancouver this time. You’ll notice I’m presented with some filters that are specific to my search. This is what I find awesome. It knows I probably want Weather, Airport, Hotels, Map, Real Estate, or Images. I’ll choose Weather.

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So looks like the weather in Vancouver is nothing to write home about. Let’s filter on Images.

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The Image search is pretty awesome. It shows you all the images, as well as related searches that you might find useful. When you hover over images, they kind of pop out at you, and allow you to search similar images, or provide feedback on the image. If you were to click into an image at this point, you get a really easy to navigate screen showing you all the images in your search.

Conclusion

There are some really cool innovations in Bing. While the travel features, the product comparison features, and restaurant reviews are pretty cool, the thing I love the most has to be the overall usability of Bing. It beats Google hands down. Navigating throughout the application, you are never taken away from the familiar look and feel. You can go to videos, images, review information, and your navigation never changes! Try doing things you can do in Bing in Google, and you end up lost within a few minutes, and forced to hit the back button and praying your browser remembers what you did last.

The real innovation and magic in Bing is how Microsoft was able to apply so many seemingly little enhancements in search, provide a familiar interface to users, and also increase the relevance of the search results. The magic in creating awesome software and web applications is to solve extremely complex problems, and make things seem “simple” to the user. Microsoft has hit a home run with Bing. Bing is not simply a re-branding of Live Search, it is a huge step forward over any other search engine I have ever used.

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Miguel Carrasco

Miguel Carrasco runs software development and technology at Anvil Digital, a software development and marketing company in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He also writes a popular blog, Software Development in the Real World.  With over 10 years experience in the IT industry, Miguel has been involved in over 100 real world projects ranging from software development, team leadership and organization, creative user experience design, and infrastructure projects.