Microsoft Bing – Is Good, Good Enough?

Microsoft recently launched a new search engine called Bing in an attempt to directly challenge search engine giant Google. According to Microsoft, Bing is more than a simple search engine. They claim their tool can help users move beyond the searching experience to make better and more informed decisions.

Early feedback about Microsoft’s new “decision engine” has been positive. Users report accurate search results and helpful features but is it enough to make them change their search habits?

Some of Bing’s useful features include the following:

Website Summaries

Mouse over the right edge of the search results and a brief summary of the page is displayed. This allows you to learn more about the page without leaving your search results.

Live Video Previews

Do a video search and the results will be displayed as thumbnails. Mouseover the thumbnails, and the videos play directly on the search results page. There’s no need to click through to view the video. This is an innovative yet controversial feature that may see legal challenge.

Company Contact Info

Bing returns company contact information when searching for a company name. Search for and Bing returns the company’s customer service phone number (800-201-7575) along with links to the website. This can be a huge convenience if the company you’re trying to contact doesn’t make this information readily accessible.

Clean Design

Borrowing from Google’s minimalistic design, Bing’s search engine results pages (SERPs) have plain and simple backgrounds. This helps keep load times to a minimum. Similar to Google, sponsored ads are displayed both at the top, and along the right side of the page.

Multiple Search Options

You can choose to search websites, images, videos, news, maps and more, right from the homepage. “Related searches” is a helpful feature for delving deeper into a topic by displaying related search queries. Bing also keeps track of your past searches, displaying them as handy links on the left side of the page. Similar to “Google Suggest,” Bing’s autosuggestion feature gives you suggestions for searching in real time. As you type in the search box, related search terms are displayed to help you narrow or refine your query.

Is It Enough?

Most people seem surprised Bing works as well as it does. This may be due to the challenges internet search presents as well as Microsoft’s past search engine efforts. Some studies even show Bing provides “better” search results than Google.

“Good” or “Better” may not be enough for Bing however. People are creatures of habit, especially online. To change consumer behavior, in this case their search habits, a new product must be significantly better than an existing offering. Google has become so integral to many people’s online lives that it will take a lot for them to change to a new search provider. It’s not enough for Bing to be as good or marginally better than Google.

Because of this, it’s highly unlikely Bing will replace Google as #1 in search anytime soon. A more realistic goal might be to surpass Yahoo and take over the #2 spot in search market share. Some research shows Bing has already passed Yahoo but it remains to be seen if Bing can maintain that position over time and build on its momentum.

Have you used Bing? What do you think of it? Will you make Bing your new default search provider?