Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bing! Pros and Cons

Bing is a new search engine, made by Microsoft. I guess Bill wants to compete with Google and he picked Google's strongest product to go up against.

Bing is pretty. Each day, there's a new picture. A really cool picture. You'll immediately want to know more about it -- where is it? what is it? why is it like that? Hover your mouse over the photo and you'll see hotspots where you can get more info. Click and you'll get an answer to one of the questions the creators think you might want to know. Therefore,

Bing is informative. You learn stuff by going there. It's like closing your eyes and pointing your pencil at a map of the world -- only better, because you instantly get to see what it looks like. And they pick someplace that looks cool and interesting, not dull and boring. Therefore,

Bing can be an inspiration for writers suffering writer's block. Or a diversion for those who just don't want to write about what they're supposed to be writing about (like me, I'm supposed to be writing about the Pantone Color Matching System. Boring!).

But is Bing a good search engine? The ads say it's a "decision engine" but they don't define that term. If "decision engine" means it decides what you want to know about, then, yes, Bing is definitely that. And it does that very well. Will that compete against Google? No way!

Does Bing bring up better search results than Google? Well, mostly, when I go there, I get distracted and forget what I was going to search for. I've learned about beautiful cliffside villages on the Meditteranean, and I've learned that in Iceland they have cute little houses half-buried under the ground that remind me of Hobbit holes and look like they should belong in New Zealand. I saw neat pictures of the Great Barrier Reef from space. The one time I did search using Bing, I ended up with results that looked almost exactly like those I got from Google for the same search.

But I try to go to Bing every day, just to see the new photo for the day. I even made it the home page in Chrome, which is, well, not my default browser. But I thought the irony of making Bing my default browser in Chrome was too funny to pass up. However, it doesn't work right in Chrome; when you want to go back and see yesterday's photo, you get an error message.

Bing and it's owners sure are helping the economy by buying lots of ads. Will that help Bing topple Google from top of the search engine market?

Only time will tell, but I don't think so.

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