Sunday, June 14, 2009

Auditioning a New Search Engine: Bing

June 14, 2009

Auditioning a New Search Engine:
My personal impressions using Bing instead of Google

Why give a new search engine a shot? Good question. I am a heavy user of online searches. I settled on Google some years ago. Since then, Google has been my preferred search engine and IE home page. However, even Google is not perfect. I personally find that roughly 95% of the search results generated by Google are useless.

Another admittedly infrequent problem is the dead end search. This frustrating experience goes like this: I embark on a search, go to one or more of the results pages, but no joy. Then I try a new search word combination, search through many pages, still no joy. Finally I reach a dead end. None of the listed search results is helpful and time is wasting, I am tired, frustrated, and in no mood to back track. It’s a problem for me and maybe for others. But, enough on the dead end search peeve.

Light Bulb: Google is Suboptimal
Thinking about these experiences a few months ago, a metaphorical light bulb came on in my fevered brain. Namely: Google, though good, is suboptimal.

My thinking went like this: (A) Google is currently the best choice for my purposes. (B) Google provides a service that is 95% useless and or misleading. Hence (C) Google is suboptimal and (D) opportunity exists for a better search.

For these reasons I was feeling open to trying a new search engine, and what do you know? Along comes MSFT with Bing. So, “Why not give Bing a chance and try it for a few weeks?” I said to myself. “Yes,” I answered. And, “Why not share your experience on Twitter?” I said to myself. “Well ok, I will,” I answered.

So here goes.
DAY 1 Auditioning Bing

Step 1 Change my IE8 defaults from Google to Bing.
Committing to the program, I changed my IE defaults. Here’s how to change them. Open IE8 and pull down Tools from the IE8 menu bar. Then select Internet Options and fill in the address form box with [http:/]. Then use the cursor backspace key to erase other old addresses in the form. When you just have the one entry for Bing, then click OK. Now when I open IE8 it goes to the Bing search home page.

One more thing. If you want new browsing tabs to open with the Bing page here‘s how to set it up. Go to IE8 Tools/Internet Options/ and under Tabs, select settings, and under “When new tab is opened, open:” select “Your first home page.” That’s all there is to it. Just click ok. Now whenever you open a new tab, the Bing search page will come up automatically. Now, that‘s real commitment.
First time searching with Bing.

My experience opening and searching with Bing for the very first time.

First Impressions
I like the look of the Bing pages. The home page layout is easy to absorb at-a-glance. The results page layout is clear, easy on the eye, and seems a bit less busy than the corresponding Google page. I did a few searches which came up with lots of results. The top five or so, being displayed in large clear font. The Bing page designers seem to have hit on a good visual presentation scheme.

I had an initial subjective impression that Bing seemed to respond a bit faster than Google.

Step-by-step walk-through experiences and observations:

1. Starting a search on Bing
After opening the Bing home page:, I found I could go ahead and start searching right away by typing keywords into the big white form box. After typing a few key words, I noticed a little square orange “magnifying glass” icon to the right of the text I had entered. Mouse click on that icon or just hit return to initiate the search. Bing immediately jumps to a new page showing search results, just like Google. So far so good.

2. Search results page on Bing
The results page is divided into three columns. The wide center column contains the main list of search results references. The narrow right column contains sponsors sites and messages. The narrow left column shows the history of my searches in this session, in the form of a list of blue highlighted, previously used, search word groups.

3. Cool mouse over
If you mouse over one of the search results, something cool happens. A little orange dot appears to the right of the result. If you then mouse over the orange dot, a text summary bubble appears after a short wait. The text bubble contains a brief, coherently phrased summary of that particular result page. Actually, the bubble text seems to be the first few sentences of the page referenced by the search. The summary bubble gives a quick look at the reference’s content thus informing your decision to jump or not-to-jump to the referenced page. My first impression is that I like the summary bubble and will probably use it in future searches.

4. More on the left side Search History column
The left column contains a blue highlighted list of the key words from the previous searches. To go back to a previous search just click on the key word set you want. This feature could be handy if you are doing a string of search queries that go off-track. Just mouse click the last good search word set as displayed in the left column, and you jump back to those search results.

5. Now a bit on Windows Live
A Window’s Live account is not necessary to use Bing, so this paragraph is a bit tangential. When I first set up my Bing IE8 choices a query came up asking if I wanted to sign in/up on Windows Live. I decided to do it. Here’s how it worked. A short page came up asking for an email address, name, birth year, a new password for my new Windows Live account, and finally a captcha. I filled out the form and clicked on the security agreement. That’s it. No email confirmation was sent, and I could immediately sign in to Windows Live on the Bing home page.

Well, thanks for your attention, and stay tuned for the next episode of Auditioning Bing.

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