File Under: Software & Tools

Microsoft’s ‘Bing’ Search Engine Debuts, But It’s No Google

Microsoft’s revamped search offering — known as “Bing” — has gone live. In fact, Bing is now the default Live.com homepage.

We know what you’re thinking: Does the world need another confusingly-branded search engine? But horrible name and questionable graphics aside (Hot air balloons? Seriously?) Bing actually isn’t that bad of a search engine.

The problem is that Bing doesn’t really offer any compelling advantage over Google.

Bing is fast, offers a minimalist results page (which looks just like Google’s results, but with a bit more filtering/subsearch options in the left-hand sidebar), and acceptable, though not stellar, results. There’s not much more to it.

In general, Bing’s results were a bit outdated compared to similar searches preformed on Google, and Bing often lacks the helpful inner-page links that Google offers for large, popular websites.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been trumpeting Bing as a better solution for shopping searches, trip planning, health care queries and finding a local business.

From our testing, while Bing is able to deliver acceptable results for most of those use cases, there is again, nothing major that sets it apart from Google.

There are some niceties. Like, when you’re searching for shopping results, Bing carries over Live.com’s cashback offers. The links now say, ‘Bing Cashback,” but are otherwise the same. Also, search results are accompanied by the standard short page descriptions we’ve come to expect, but if that’s not enough information for you, hover your mouse over the search result. You’ll see a small box pop up that provides even more in-depth info. The nice thing is that Bing gives you a preview of the content of the page itself, rather than just relying on the meta description. It’s not entirely new, but it’s a helpful feature.

Another place Bing offers you something you won’t find on Google is within video searches. Bing lets you watch short previews of videos (including results from Hulu). To see it in action just search for an episode of your favorite show using Bing Videos and then hover the mouse over any of the video thumbnails to watch a short clip. Beware though, the clips will auto-play and don’t always stop when you roll off them, which could make for some potentially awkward moments depending on what sort of video you’re searching for.

While Bing is definitely Microsoft’s most impressive search engine to date, it still lacks anything game-changing enough to make us switch away from Google.

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