June 01, 2009

But Its Not Google - more Search News

BING is the new name for Microsoft's search, formerly part of their LIVE suite of services. This seems to be a good few months for search. Just a few weeks ago we had the inauguration of Wolfram Alpha, and now the Bing.

Microsoft purportedly was very focused on verb-ifying their new offering and therefore had to go with the 'ing' ending. But Bing? As Chandler would say, Bing is Gaelic for 'Thy turkey is done'.

Bing has been live for a while, and it is not really all that bad. My bone of contention with its predecessor, Live search, was the super-heavy pages used to display results, and not so much the quality of the searches themselves. That seems to have changed with Bing. The pages seem quick. Not much of a fan of the changing main page background, but maybe that is just a matter of getting used to it. Of course, if you want to see the previous photos, you have to install Silverlight.

I guess for me, that is what makes Microsoft so annoying. It is like a car salesman that just wouldn't give up. It is always a matter of, 'I will give you this if you want that'. Microsoft properties online seem to acutely make you aware that you are a guest and therefore need to mind your manners and clicks. The constant struggle for one-up-manship reminds one of a petulant child, unhappy about the attention being showered on younger sibling Google.

One more matter of annoyance before I move on. This one specific to Bing. I don't think I am much of a fan of location assumptions being made by the software and then filtering my results without really letting me know about it. Seeing local search results surreptitiously is almost like those sleazy ads one sees online, from ladies starved of physical affection who magically know where you live and want to make a tryst with you. I may be using a proxy - did Bing think of that? Filtering my results for Indianapolis, Indiana when I am not even in the same state, isn't smart as much as it is annoying.

Bing seeks to bring travel into the search engine. As an example, they trot out the ability to book flights to Hawaii. Apparently, that is all there is to it. Try booking a flight to Milwaukee, and you are back to Expedia or Travelocity. So maybe, Hawaii wasn't so much as a feature, as it was a demo. Maybe we need Silverlight to be able to book tickets everywhere else.

Overall the search is in there somewhere. The interface is definitely better, and worth checking out. It has a few new demos of potential new features to come. Otherwise, it is pretty much same old, same old.

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