Bing Vs. Google

October 2009

What a great name: Bing. And Microsoft’s new search engine also has a simple, sprightly, attractive interface. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s Microsoft copying Google. This is Microsoft doing what it does best: imitation.

So how does Bing stack up? It’s a winner.

Like Google, there’s a simple search box and a list of search terms that pop up matching the characters you’ve entered so far, and links for image, video, news, travel, maps, and shopping.

But once you do a search, there’s a difference. In your results list, as your cursor hovers over a result, a little line appears to the right. If you let your cursor hover over that line, two or three paragraphs from the linked page pop up. This is incredibly handy. You can get a preview of the content without have to click the link and wait for the page to load. You can slide your cursor down the right side of the results and quickly preview every web page.

Video results also give a handy preview. Do a search in Bing, and you get a page of thumbnail stills from the videos — four rows of five. As your cursor hovers over each thumbnail, it plays a one-minute preview of the video, sampling various sections of it. If you click on one of the search results, the video plays in a larger window right there on the page.

The image search is also innovative. Google gives a results page with 21 images (three rows of seven), but then you have to keep clicking to get to the next page of results. But with Bing, as you scroll down the page it keeps filling the page with more images. You never have to tediously click to get to the next page of results.

Another great feature of the web search is the panel that appears to the left of the search results. It contains a list of related searches. For example, a search on “bicycle” brings up related search terms such as specialized bicycles, mountain bikes, road bicycles, kids bicycles, and natural bicycles.

That panel also includes links to specialized searches. So if you search on “Brad Pitt,” you’ll get links at left for Images, Movies, Biography, Interview, Posters, Wallpaper, News, and Videos. Search on “St. Louis Cardinals,” and the list of specialized searches in the left panel includes Schedule, Tickets, Stadium, Rumors, and Roster. Search on “diabetes,” and the list includes Articles, Symptoms, Diet, Complications, Prevention, and Test.

There are so many brilliant little touches that are so handy that Bing makes Google seem archaic. For example, the first search result when you search on “St. Louis Cardinals” is a small list that shows the scores of the two most recent games, plus the game time and opponent for the next four games.

Bing’s shopping search has interesting features. As you would expect, if you search for a specific product, you can sort the search results to see the lowest price. But a really neat touch is Bing’s cashback program. If you sign up for this program and do your online shopping via Bing searches, you’ll get a cashback return that is typically from 1-5% of the purchase price. You can earn up to $2,500 in cashback savings in a calendar year. They send you a check or deposit the money electronically.

There are other impressive features, but I’ll let you explore them yourself.

Microsoft is spending $100 million on marketing its new search engine, so no doubt Bing has already been in your face. It’s interesting to watch Microsoft and Google go head to head. They’ve both built their empires on somewhat shaky foundations. Almost all of Microsoft’s revenue comes from two products: Windows and Office. And 97% of Google’s revenue comes from the advertising it sells.

So now they’re both eyeing the other’s market. Microsoft has created Bing and has partnered with Yahoo so that Yahoo’s search will eventually give Bing results (if it’s approved by regulators). Microsoft currently has 9% of the search market compared to Google’s 65%.

And Google is going after Microsoft’s niche, planning to offer a version of its Chrome browser that will take the place of an operating system and offering its own suite of online office apps, such as Gmail, Google Docs (word processing and spreadsheet), and Google Calendar.

So give Bing a try. And if you can’t decide which you like best, then use Bingle (bingle.pwnij.com) for your searches. The search results are displayed in side-by-side windows, the left for Bing and the right for Google.


© 2009 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

E-mail Jim Karpen