Monday, August 17, 2009

To Bing or Not to Bing?

Earlier this summer Microsoft launched its new search engine Bing.  Promoted as the first ever “decision engine,” it was designed to be their biggest competition to the almighty Google thus far.  Even though I’m a diehard Google Girl to the nth degree, I’ll admit, I was intrigued by Microsoft’s

commercials for Bing, citing “search overload” as a common affliction among Google users and decided to check it out.  Here’s what I found.

At first look, Bing’s search page is more spify and elaborate than the plain Jane Google page we’ve all come to know and love.  A picture (that changes daily) is prominently displayed in the middle of the page and you can click on parts of the picture to gain pertinent info about it.  For example today’s was a photo of Mt. Shuksan in North Cascades National Park Washington.  Moving the mouse over certain parts of the picture yields info on backpacking, hiking, and the number of species that make their home near the 300 glaciers of the  park.  This is actually a pretty cool feature if you’re bored and surfing the web with no distinct purpose.  However, if you’re a woman on a mission, as I so often am when I go to search for something, this can either be at best a distraction or skipped over all together.  Besides, are aesthetics really all that important in an effective search engine?  I think not.

As far as the actual search engine goes I tried multiple examples such as my name, Schofield Barracks Spouse’s Club, Oahu bait shops, how to make a three column blog layout, and the Chevy Camaro.  Then, I searched the same topics in Google and compared the two.  The results wereBing Logo overwhelmingly in favor of Google.  Time and time again I found what I was looking for quicker and in fewer search results.  There were two searches (how to make a 3 column blog and the Chevy Camaro) where Bing yielded what I was looking for in the same number of search results as Google but they never did it in fewer results.

Another interesting aspecet Bing offered was the categorizing of topics related to your search.  When I looked up “Chevy Camaro,” on the left side in the navigation pane were clickable tabs for parts, repairs, dealers, etc.  This could be helpful in narrowing down the search.  However, Google offers essentially the same thing at the bottom of it’s search page.  The only difference being, it’s not as “pretty” as Bing’s version. 

The one redeeming feature that is very appealing is Bing Travel.  In 2008 Microsoft acquired Farecast as well as their advanced technology for searching travel related items such as hotel rooms and airline tickets.  Basically they have some very geeky predictive algorithm to determine the best time to buy a ticket based on past year’s rates.  It does something similar for hotel prices based on the historic rates for each hotel and can even make you aware of “hot deals” within a specific geographic region.  This technology is highly useful, and I can definitely see myself using this in the future.  When trying to determine when exactly we should go on leave, I’ve often thought, “I wonder when would be the best time to buy my ticket and get the best deal.”  Thanks to this feature, this type of fruitless wondering is now over.

Google Log All in all I wasn’t all that impressed, and a little dissapointed after the fun “search overload” commercial hype.  While they definitely have a more stylized page and their aesthetics are better, I’m more interested in quickly finding what I’m looking for, than having it be pretty.  Bing is the best search engine the money whores at Microsoft have put out yet, so yay for them.  Unfortunately for them it’s still inferior to Google. 

**Helpful info in writing this post came from this article at PCWorld.

6 comments:

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the review! I love Google and I don't ever see myself converting unless something AMAZING comes along. But my homepage has Bing now so I've found myself thinking of using it. After reading this, I think I'll be sticking to my tried and true.

Came over from SITS and I'm glad I did!

Angela said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the review! The look of Bing is appealing, but in the end it just doesn't cut it! Google fans unite! :)

Boaz Cohen said...

I really like Bing Travel (Farecast.com), and I made a list of the sites I use to buy airline tickets:
http://www.theresasiteforthat.com/2009/08/sites-for-buying-airline-tickets.html

Debbie said...

Thanks for the review. I watch the show "The Philanthropist" and they're always doing plugs for Bing, so it made me curious what the website was all about. I haven't tried it yet, but from your review, it seems I don't really need to. I think I'll just stick with Google!

Angela said...

Boaz Cohen - Thanks for the tip! Farecast rocks!

Debbie - I'm so glad you found my review helpful! I was totally curious about it from their hilarious commercials, too bad that (and Farecast) was the best thing about it! :)

Anne said...

I really love google..but recently I've switched to swagbucks, which is fun to earn, just kind of a slow process... if you don't know you could exchange your swagbucks for prizes so that is cool. anytime I've forgotten to get to my search engines it automatically takes me to bing (which was annoying!) but I think the commericals of theirs are pretty funny!

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