If, like me, you are finding the over-arching reach of ubër-corporation Google to be too invasive then maybe it’s time to try out another over-arching ubër corporation’s search engine: bing. Microsoft have dabbled with searches before via the MSN site, but like Windows Vista or Internet Explorer, it’s ugly and annoying (please insert your celebrity comparison now).
So, Microsoft decided that enough is enough and chucked lots and lots of gold coins at the ‘problem’ and have come up with a new search engine. The PR initiative from Microsoft has been insidious and the coup of getting Newscorp involved shouldn’t be ignored – after all, they are up against Google which is probably worth more than…I dunno, Luxembourg – so telling people that there really is another search engine out there is the first hurdle and persuading them that there is something better than Google is the second. A tough ask.
- Home page Google does the whole doing ‘fun’ things with the logos bollocks that I find a bit old fashioned (think Channel 4 logo circa 1985) and deeply patronising. I can imagine the brass at Google saying: ‘yeah, it’s branding and it’s funny and cool. We’re clever, huh?” Yeah, right. What Bing have done is use one huge picture as the home page and have little rollovers on it that reveal extra information about it. It’s great, quite fresh and the images are usually superb. My only criticisms are that I wish the image would be header to footer and sidebar to sidebar rather than a wee window in the middle. Also, Bing’s logo is a bit of a minger. What is it with Microsoft? Do they employ blind designers, or what?
- Web Search After using Google for so long Bing seems really clean. No ads, no sidebar gubbins; none of that promoting web results crap that no one uses or understands…but no wonderwheel or timeline either. Related searches are on the left which is quite handy but it seems to use a different algorithm or something, because sometimes it finds things Google can’t and sometimes it seems to not find things very well at all. However, when it does find things it gives a quick preview of it via a little rollover…which is nice.
- Image Search I have found Bing to be invaluable for image searches and have ditched Google in favour of it. Really. The main reason is that you get loads of images really, really fast in one hit. It is just easier, faster and cleaner than Google. The filtering options are much better as well.
I’ve never had a problem with Microsoft. I’m a mac-head but I still prefer the Office suite over Numbers and Keynote and all the other Mickey Mouse programs that Apple makes. I use Windows XP in bootcamp and find it to be stable, efficient and quite user friendly. The Xbox 360 and Xbox Live are awesome. So giving Bing a go feels fair given Microsoft’s heritage.
I still think, however, that Bing feels like a beta. The web searching feels particularly hit and miss…but I love the homepage, so much so that I like to visit to see what image they have each day. The photo today, for instance, is awesome. The image searching is amazing and I have found it to be much more effective than Google. But, Google is going to remain my primary information gatherer and in that respect I think Bing has a mountain to climb.