Microsoft’s new Bing search engine has debuted, very quietly, and is already the talk of the ‘Net. Contrary to what you might have heard, Bing does not stand for “But It’s Not Google,” though that might be a close approximation of what it is.
Bing is pretty, that’s for sure. It has a very nice layout and a great way of organizing results. Much better on the eyes, in my opinion, than Google. It doesn’t yet have the ability, but it will soon have alternate skins available to customize the look too.
One of the very unique features is embedded auto-play for videos so that when you search for them (much like in Google: enter a search query, click the “Video” filter), most of them will play automatically when you hover your mouse over them. Sound and all, though you can click a mute button to disable sound in the embeds.
Of course, TechCrunch shows this feature off in an article published this morning, showcasing how Bing doesn’t filter porn. For now, anyway. Microsoft has said they’re changing the filtering system and it’s disabling toggles soon.
To be honest, another TechCrunch article is right. The demo video last week didn’t do Bing justice at all. It’s much more robust than I’d expected and is actually a contender as a useful search engine. I’d only choose Google over it based on trust.
In fact, the more I write about it, the more I consider that I may start using Bing for a lot of things. Search for movie information, for instance. I did a search for “The Wrestler” (starring Micky Rourke, 2008), which is a great movie, and saw some cool features Bing has.
Since the search is about a movie, Bing changes the options filters to things related to movies. So now you can search for movie information, photographs from the movie, video, quotes, soundtrack, the cast, etc. That’s something I should have expected, since Bing does this same sort of custom filtering for books, blogs, etc.
A few notes on Bing are appropriate if you’re planning to use it as more than a curiosity: if you don’t live in North America, you’re likely using a localized Bing that may be missing some features. Go to the Bing Worldwide page and change your language to English-U.S.
Other useful options are the ability to save your search history into a stand-alone file you can carry with you on the go or lock away for security so you can keep your history without it being available to everyone who uses your system. You can also send these via email or other sharing so friends and colleagues can use them.
Another great feature you wouldn’t consider useful until you’ve used it is the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed for any search query you’ve entered into Bing. This makes just about any search subject into a possible aggregate RSS so you can keep up on its “news’ daily. For me, this is a huge benefit because I do a lot of news hounding in various subjects as part of my daily routine.
For more great tips, check out this nice little article from Digital Inspiration.
Bing is a great search tool and it’s good to finally see Google have some serious competition. I expect the upcoming rollout of the new Google updates to include some copycat additions to mimick some of Bing’s more popular functions. I’m hoping that this is the start of a new search engine war that will breath some healthy competition and innovation into the search game.
For now, Bing definitely has some real bling!