Talking Tech Friday – Bing

I’ve had Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, on my list of possible topics for a while, but I was inspired to review it this week because of my husband, who has converted to Bing for his primary searching.  He says he finds the interface appealing, especially the page of the day.  Naturally, I have to use my librarian-fu to make my own determination.

What is it?

Bing is Microsoft’s new search engine – a revamp of the old, neglected Live Search.  Many of the features are Live Search holdovers, but there are some new features and it is powered by a new search technology.

How does it work?

The main page is attractive, I’ll agree with my husband there.  Each day, a new image is displayed.  Mousing over the page brings up information related to the image. Yesterday, in honor of the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, the main page displayed the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony – relevant links revealed by mouseover included information on Hiroshima today, origami, and the Motoyasu River.  Additionally, the featured searches at the bottom of the page are for origami books, planning a trip to Japan.  Today’s image is of the Sahara desert, with mouseovers revealing that the hottest temperature ever recorded at the Sahara is 136 degrees.  I’m suddenly content with Phoenix’s average of 115 this week.  While I’m normally a search box user (I have Google, among other engines, in a box in my browser) and never go to a page for searching, Bing may actually change my behavior – I’m curious what each day’s page might offer! With the exception of the changing Google Logos, there’s usually no reason to actually visit google.com. Fortunately, Bing also offers a search box option, so I’ve added it to my browser search box.  In the Help section, Bing also allows you to change your preference to not show the daily image, if a white page is all you want.

To search, you can either type in the general box, or you can limit your search parameters by the options in the left column: Images, Videos, Shopping, News, Maps, and Travel.  I’m not going to specifically search each of these options – the reviews listed below go into great detail on various search results, and Bing itself has a handy overview of how these options make a difference.  However, I am going to do a couple of general searches that might be typical for my, or library, use.

I also wanted to look for advanced search options – on Google, it’s very easy to click on Advanced Search on the main page.  There is no obvious place on the Bing homepage, but I did find information on it in the Help section – the advanced search option appears after you’ve already done a general search.  There are also search tips available.  Like Google, all searches are assumed to be using the Boolean AND between words, but NOT and OR can be used if they are capitalized. Using quotation marks searches for an exact phrase.  There is also a list of advanced search keywords to make your search more powerful.  For a librarian, exploring the Help section is very useful.

I did a general search for “restaurants Downtown Phoenix.” Bing offers a list of related searches in the left column, and the results are similar to Google – a map with some specific restaurants, and a list of relevant websites.  Hovering just to the right of each search result brings up a little popup with a brief sampling of the content on that page, so you don’t have click through to get an idea of what’s on that link.  I like this feature! Clicking on “Arizona Center” in the related search column gives me a list of the movies playing at the AMC theater there, as well as links to information about the mall – if I were planning a downtown Phoenix excursion, this would be very useful.

Doing a search for “sonia sotomayor” brings up news results at the top, with an option to look at today’s top stories, or to create an alert for news results on this topic.  Today’s top stories is a very attractive page, with lots of related images and including news videos.  If you hover your mouse over the video, it will play a preview.  You can also scroll horizontally for more video results.

I did a search for “Dell Mini 9“, my bitty laptop, and am quite pleased with Bing’s options.  The first (non-sponsored) link is to the appropriate Dell site, but I particularly like my options in the left sidebar: I can limit my search by accessories, reviews, support, parts, specs, and video.  That seems very useful to me.

I’ve been experimenting with the Windows 7 Release Candidate, so I did a search for that, just to see what comes up.  Interestingly, the first results to pop up are videos.  I decided to try tacking on “dell mini” to see what pops up, and got some interesting results.  I pull myself away from some discussion and return to this post!

Possible Library Uses

As librarians, I think it’s a good idea for us to be familiar with various search engine options. I’ve been pretty exclusively using Google for my basic searching, but it’s nice to try out something different.  I like the feel and the way Bing displays results, and I’m going to try it out for a few weeks and see how it goes.  Have you tried it? What do you think?

Reviews

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~ by Anali on August 7, 2009.