Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bing! Oh, not quite ...

Finally, Microsoft has taken the wraps off Bing, it's new - or improved - search service (formerly known as Kumo and more formerly known as Live Search -- they never give up; give 'em another thousand years, and they will have used up every available four letter word, real or made up). Early reviews seemed to be very positive. Now it looks like those reviewers were paid shills; whatever they were smoking, I hope they will offer me a hit too.

First thing I did with Bing was what any self-respecting surfer would -- I ego surfed: searched for my name. The result was incredibly underwhelming. Apart from using more elegant typefaces and a dash of color, the dang thing was hardly a significant improvement on Google Search. Okay, the image search has a couple of fancy features -- you can specify size, aspect ratio, color, style (photo or illustration) and people (faces, head and shoulders, other). Nice, but not that useful to me. Google brought a wider variety of pictures on the first page; the following pages were irrelevant. Bing returned only page of photos, and only three of my pictures, including a pair of duplicates. In comparison, Google returned eight different pictures of me.

So if you plan to search for me, may I recommend Google? Bing does have a little bit of, well, bling to show: hold the cursor to the right of a search result and it out pops a bit of information from the page, including additional links. Now that can be useful in that it might save the effort of clicking on the search result itself. But this feature is something one needs to discover (to one's delight) by accident.

I highly recommend Bing to anyone who wishes to play around for a few minutes -- it's a new toy (just like the old toy). Beyond that, I wonder what Microsoft was thinking -- Bing: because it's nearly as good as Google? They got away with that sort of thing with DOS and Windows, but that was in the days when price was a differentiator. But we're talking no price at all here. Unless there is stuff that Microsoft has chosen to hide from the average user until a while later, there's nothing to see here folks, move on!

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