June 19, 2009

Microsoft plans to spend $100 million advertising its “new” search engine Bing. Will that be enough to lure us all away from the ubiquitous Google? Will Binging it one day replace Googling it?

More cynical observers have noted that Bing is basically yet another re-brand of the search engine that began life as MSN Search before becoming Live Search.

On the plus side, there is general agreement that the snappier name is an improvement and that the user interface looks and feels a lot better than previous incarnations.

But some have questioned both whether Bing’s core search functionality is as fast, efficient and reliable as Google and whether some of its more eye-catching add-ons like video previews from search results slow it down further.

There are also concerns that Microsoft’s model of delivering search results influenced by local commercial partners makes it less appealing than Google’s purer focus on delivering simply the most relevant results.

If you are searching for car insurance, for example, Bing returns only UK results while quite a good few auto insurance deals creep in via Google. Bing’s local tendency is arguably useful in that it saves you typing in UK‚ but clearly there are unseen hands steering your search in ways you didn’t necessarily ask for.

Bankstone can’t complain, though, since a lot more of the Bankstones returned by Bing are us (i.e. leading UK specialist insurance management company) rather than the fictional London suburbs immortalised by “00” gauge model railway enthusiasts or West Bank Stone Throwers picked out by Google.

Can’t decide‚ no problem‚ just click through to mash-up “Bingle” at http://bingle.pwnij.com/ and you get to use both at the same time.

Type Bing into Bingle and it looks like Bing is being curiously modest. Bing finds Crosbys and film production companies, while Google pings back Bings of the kind that everyone’s currently searching for. Modesty or inferior algorithmny – judge for yourself.

Meanwhile typing Bingle into Bingle pulls up an Australian car of that name, Bradford and Bingley, Santa’s helper Mr Bingle, and antipodean model Lara Bingle.



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