Banging on Bing: A Bummer

June 1, 2009
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So, Bing is out early. Yes, an early release from Microsoft! And it’s snappy, attractive, and offers decent quality. If I needed to use Bing as my main search engine for the web (yes, readers, imagine a world without Google and Yahoo as search options), I’d survive.

But I can’t say I’d be thrilled. I’ve only had a short time to play with Bing, but I’m not overwhelmed. In fact, I’m quite disappointed, given their big talk about deliver a “decision engine,” I expected at least a little bit of innovation in the user experience. No such luck, The focus is still on the ranked list, and their ranking is, at least to my taste, perceptibly inferior to Google’s. I could live with that small difference if the interface offered real opportunities for interaction. But there isn’t anything new there. You can refine by result type (Web, Images, Videos, Shopping, News, Maps, Local, Travel), but search engines have been doing that for years…

So, Bing is out early. Yes, an early release from Microsoft! And it’s snappy, attractive, and offers decent quality. If I needed to use Bing as my main search engine for the web (yes, readers, imagine a world without Google and Yahoo as search options), I’d survive.

But I can’t say I’d be thrilled. I’ve only had a short time to play with Bing, but I’m not overwhelmed. In fact, I’m quite disappointed, given their big talk about deliver a “decision engine,” I expected at least a little bit of innovation in the user experience. No such luck, The focus is still on the ranked list, and their ranking is, at least to my taste, perceptibly inferior to Google’s. I could live with that small difference if the interface offered real opportunities for interaction. But there isn’t anything new there. You can refine by result type (Web, Images, Videos, Shopping, News, Maps, Local, Travel), but search engines have been doing that for years.

The only novelty is “xRank,” which lets you “see who and what everyone’s searching for most.” It’s intriguing, but it seems half-baked, and I suspect that others are further ahead on crowd-sourcing relevance through the social stream.

I take no pleasure in throwing cold water on the queue of challengers that attempt to provide competition for Google in web search. Perhaps Bing is truly in beta, and will prove itself a more formidable challenger in the future. But it’s surely not there now.

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