It's time to give Bing the respect it deserves

Microsoft reveals new redesign, improved features to Bing search. We may finally have a worthy rival to Google

When Bing went live in 2009, many people joked about what the name meant. Some thought it was an acronym like "Blah, it's not Google," "Bill, it's not Google," or another variant. CEO Steve Ballmer claimed Microsoft wanted something that "unambiguously says 'search'" and that it can "verb up," like, er, Google. The best explanation I've heard is that it's meant to represent the sound of something found, the "aha" moment when your search leads to an answer. "Bing! I've got it." (Call me crazy but knowing that makes me like it a little more.)

But is it just me or is something getting in the way of switching to Bing from of Google? Bing has only four letters to type versus Google's six, so that makes using Bing easier right off the bat. Microsoft has also made it the default search tool for its Internet Explorer browser, so it comes up automatically. Yet I still find myself using Google.

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Here's the kicker: I believe Bing is a better tool and have thought so for a long time. Everything in Bing from regular search to image or video search comes with more information and assistance than when you search via Google. With the recent revamp, Bing's features continue to outshine Google's.

The Bing team at Microsoft is focusing on more than just indexing and delivering content. The new focus is on insight. Bing combines two features introduced last year: Snapshot (which shows what Bing discovers about a person, place, or thing) and Sidebar (which shows social networking information from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so forth). These two features have been combined into a single column (rather than two separate columns). Google has a similar capability called Knowledge Graph.

A new feature called Page Zero shows links and facts before you even select the search you want, in what is called "intent disambiguation." It's more than just an auto-complete of your search (or an Instant Search, as Google calls it). Instead, it provides more relevant results or directions for you to take through your search. For example, if you search for "Jon Stewart," you might be searching for the show or the person. The Page Zero results shows you both options before you press Enter.

Pole Position is another improvement meant to increase Bing's chances of understanding your context. For example, if you search for "temple," you could mean a variety of things, whereas if you search for "Orlando weather," it's pretty clear what you're looking for (and why). So now when Bing knows or has a high level of confidence that your search is intended to see specific information, it will put that information at the top in the "pole position" spot of the results. For example, if you search for "Orlando weather," Bing shows a graphical weather forecast. Google does this, too, but Bing had the more visually appealing display. You can test the new Bing yourself to see what I mean.

Is the new Bing a knockout punch in the fight against Google? Not at all. Although Bing search's market share has been growing, the increase seems to come at the expense of smaller engines, not Google. The latest numbers from ComScore show a 2 percent market share increase for Bing (to 18 percent) compared to Google's 67 percent. But I think it's just a matter of time before the playing field evens out a bit more and Bing wins over additional converts.

Just Bing it! (OK, that probably will never have the same impact as "Just Google it.")

This story, "It's time to give Bing the respect it deserves," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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