Although I don’t see myself dropping Google as my default search engine, I was at least curious to see what Bing.com had to offer after all the hype that’s been going on. Microsoft has put a lot of money into marketing Bing.com so naturally one can assume that they also spent a lot of money making it, and hopefully that money was well spent. Since this is just a “first thoughts” post rather than get too fancy I’ll just offer a list of pros and cons based on my experience so far. As the week goes on and I’ve had more time to play with it and compare searches with Google I will continue to write about it.
Overall, I’m impressed with what Microsoft’s done with Bing. I expected it to be as cluttered as Yahoo or the old Live Search. Instead I found a slim, sleaker version with many new bells and whistles. Both navigating the site and searching are just as quick, if not quicker than Google and the results seem to be just as relevant. But it’s going to take a lot more than just cloning Google in order to get me and the rest of the world to switch over.
As I continued to play with the site I noticed many interesting features. The most obvious being the AJAX popups for each search result that gives you a preview of its content, very handy. The infinite scrolling on the image search page didn’t impress me much as Google did that long ago with Search Mash (R.I.P.) and to be honest I don’t get why they only did it for the images and not all the pages. Another fancy, but not necessarily useful, feature is when you’re doing a video search simply hovering over a thumbnail will start playing it, then when you move your mouse it will stop.
The most talked about feature I’ve seen so far is filters/suggestions bar on the left. So for example if you were to search for “mustang” you could end up filtering for parts, accessories, sales, videos, forums, etc. Could be handy if you don’t know what you’re looking for, or don’t know how to use a search bar. But most of us are keyword wizards now and know we can search for “mustang +parts” and get our results in one swoop instead of running a search, clicking a side bar and then running another search.
When it comes to the cons, the first thing I just can’t get past is the name. I hate it. I don’t want to “bing it” any more than I want to barf. Then there’s the fact that you’re immediately presented with some ugly stock photography as their background, I don’t need to waste my bandwidth on something so bland and irrelevant.
Despite it’s many new useful tools it doesn’t provide basic calculations, such as “pounds to kilograms” or “Celsius to Fahrenheit” which I’ve become reliant on Google for. It also seems to force you to use it’s spelling suggestions rather than specifying if you’d like to or not. So when I searched for “mustag” it just decided to give me “mustang.” In most cases this will probably satisfy people however I can think of countless times I’ve been searching for an error, or chunk of code, and I get some bizarre suggestion that I simply do NOT want to search for. So forcing me to use their suggestion is not something I am likely to embrace.
More than anything it lacks a lot of the “one stop shop” features that Google offers, such as mail, calendars, analytics, etc. Sure, they do have a link to Windows Live at the top, but they have a totally different look and feel and as a result they are a totally different experience than Bing. Not to mention navigating around any Windows Live product is a nightmare. I’ve been trying to figure out how to remove my Hotmail signature for years.
So for my overall impression of the site is exactly what I had expected, on a scale between it sucks and it’s awesome I will give it a meh. I’ll keep checking in on it, see how it progress, as it may become something special if they continue to try and improve on what we’ve accepted as being a search engine. More than anything, I just hope they manage to light a fire under Google’s ass so we can get some new features from them — as that’s where I’ll be continuing to do my searches.