The Electric Wand

Weekly tips from the "Tip o' the Week" email distribution inside of Microsoft.

I Bing; do u Bing 2?

I Bing; do u Bing 2?

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It might take a while before you “bing” someone before going out on a date with them, or you “bing” a question out onto the internet… stranger things have happened though. I hear stories of people visiting bing.com every day, just to see what the picture of the day is. IMHO, that’s so much cooler than a plan white page and 10pt Arial.

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When Microsoft first announced “Bing” a few weeks ago, it was the first step in delivering a relatively fresh take on how people want to use search online. Dr Qi Lu, brain-the-size-of-a-planet president of the MS Online Services group and a recent hire from Yahoo, talks about “user intent” as being the key to unlocking a great online experience – in other words, not simply answering the question but trying to understand what the user actually wanted to say.

I’ve seen some people use search online and since they don’t really understand how query languages work (or can’t easily express themselves in accurate yet concise terms), they don’t get the best out of the current crop of search engines. By trying out really simple searches, Bing seems to be a lot better than Google, which might appeal to the less sophisticated user. IT people probably know how to search the web properly, and therefore will get similar results sets. As an example, try these randomly picked terms:

GOOGLE BING
BBC News BBC News
U2 concert U2 concert
Weather tomorrow Weather tomorrow
Kate Bush Kate Bush
Pizza recipe Pizza recipe

Hands up – the results I used on Bing were from the US version… Bing in the UK hasn’t yet got all the functionality that’s in the US site, though further improvements are coming – check out Bing’s US English site, or look at the Tour for an idea. As for the table above – I honestly spent a while thinking up the kinds of things people might search for, and none of what I came up with looked like it was any better in Google than Bing. Sometimes it was notably better the other way round.

Try yourself: look at the top search terms from Google or from Bing, and try the same search in both. You might even try BlackDog to do the search side by side.

When I was in Atlanta the other week, I went into an Apple store for a sniff around and was amused to see a Macbook Air showing a Bing search results page… was that just because 12,000 Microsoft people were in town, or are the general public starting to question the default search provider in Safari?

Safari on the Mac has, like IE on a PC, a search box in the top right. Unlike IE, you can’t choose your search provider however – Google is hard-coded in there, unless you download the Glims plugin. See GrinGod’s blog article for more details.

Comments
  • I use Bing. It's pretty nice. I used Live Search before that too, and it was fairly good. People really need to give Bing a try, at least more than one day.

    I use both IE and Safari on my computer, and I absolutely dislike Safari because the search box only lets you choose Google or Yahoo. It's absolutely ridiculous.

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