When you consider that in 2007, Google brought in over 14 billion dollars from Adwords alone, it was only a matter of time until Microsoft invested big bucks and completely redesigned their flagship search engine. The result is Bing, and it has been getting a lot of attention lately. The world of searching now has three main options: Bing, Google, and Yahoo, but which one really provides the best results? As it turns out, it depends on what you are searching for and what kind of answers you want.
On the surface, you can tell that Bing’s home page has been heavily influenced by Google. Even though most of us visit Google’s snow white and stunningly empty home page every day, it still causes many to do a double-take at the lack of ads, the paltry number of links, and the complete lack of graphics. With Bing, instead of pure white, you get a stunning photograph, a search bar, and a handful of links placed around the search field. Even the links provided appear to have been Google-influenced, with images, video, and maps all appearing in plain view. To the first time user, it remains to be seen why anyone would use Bing over Google when the newcomer appears to be trying so hard to copy what Google is doing.
Once you have performed your search, the differences between Bing and Google are made a bit clearer. With Bing, you have three panels of display: a left panel which offers refinements in your search, a center panel with your search results, and a right panel with paid advertisements tailored to your search. The display isn’t all that different from Google, and after trying a few searches, the left hand panel seems a bit tacked on and unnecessary. Here is to hoping that Microsoft uses this space for something a bit more useful in the future.
The add-ons like Microsoft Live Maps versus Maps.Google.Com are a toss up. Microsoft’s maps program provides better clarity, but the interface is jerky and more difficult to use compared to Google’s. The image search on Bing does come with a Safe Mode that can be turned off just like on Google, although Microsoft’s interface here is smoother and less obstructionist.
In the end, Bing is a vast improvement over Microsoft’s previous browser, but Bing has a long way to go to differentiate itself from Google enough so that people will use it. Currently, it feels like a rip-off of Google’s entrenched product.