Microsoft’s imitation Google

2009-06-01

in Geek stuff, Internet matters

Microsoft’s new Bing search engine is a bit bewildering. To call it an homage to Google is an understatement: complete with ‘Web,’ ‘Images,’ ‘News,’ ‘Maps,’ etc across the top bar. While the bird’s eye feature in Bing Maps is a bit neat (it seems like it might be based on HDR images), one cannot easily shake the feeling that Microsoft decided to respond to Google’s approach by outright copying it. The only oddity is that, because I have my Windows language set to British English (so it knows how to spell ‘colour’), this makes Bing think I am in the UK, and the site offers me no option for showing Canadian results or news. Not very clever, given the ease with which an IP address can be turned into a location.

Has anybody discovered any Bing feature that is either quite different from or better than a Google offering? Hotmail certainly cannot begin to touch the searchable glory that is GMail.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

. June 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

David Coursey, PC World | Tuesday, June 02, 2009 5:49 AM PDT

The Unbearable Lightness of Bing

One thing I’ve noticed since I started playing with Microsoft’s Bing “decision engine” is that there isn’t very much “there” there. And the only decision Bing seems to care about helping me make is a pretty simple one: Buy it here or buy it there, but again there isn’t a lot of, well, you know.

Even if Bing knows about the product I am interested in, which so far it most often does not, Bing then makes a fool of itself. It’s “cashback” feature is most often, again in my experience, associated with laughably high prices. Great, the product costs 20 percent more and Microsoft will give me 5 percent back. What sort of deal is that? Call it getting Binged.

Warning: The prices shown on Bing already include the cashback discount. That high price you see is already discounted, except this is like a rebate: You pay the higher price now and get the money back in 60 days.

Padraic June 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

The United Kingdom thing is really, really annoying. It’s just a reminder every time you go to the Bing home page of an error. I do like the bird’s-eye view, though.

Milan June 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Macs have a ‘Canadian English’ option, so Bing works properly for them.

. June 3, 2009 at 10:20 am

About a Bing
Beware Google: Microsoft’s new search engine isn’t half-bad.
By Farhad Manjoo
Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009, at 5:31 PM ET
Spring is the season for subpar new search engines. First we saw the launch of Wolfram Alpha, a much-hyped project that tried to distinguish itself from Google by claiming that it was not actually a search engine but rather a “knowledge engine.” Perhaps that’s why it couldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know. But Wolfram was soon forgotten as techies went ape over Topsy, a new engine that ranks its results according to what people are linking to on Twitter. An interesting idea—but, again, it proved disappointing. When I searched for “Prop 8” just after the California Supreme Court upheld the ban on gay marriage, Topsy sent me to, among other silly things, a year-old Los Angeles Times story that many Twitterers mistook for news that the ban had been overturned.

. June 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

“Bing has a few bells and whistles to make it stand out from Google, yet not so many that new users will find it hard to understand. Indeed, it’s telling that Microsoft seems less focused on distinguishing its product from Google’s than in thinking up strategies to get people to switch. For instance, the company integrated its rewards program into Bing; now you can get cash back when you buy products that you search for. Microsoft also picked the site’s name specifically to encourage usage as a verb: In a letter to users, the Bing team offers, “We sincerely hope that the next time you need to make an important decision, you’ll Bing and decide.” I know that sounds lame. But so did “I Googled him” once—until everyone began Googling everyone else, at which point it seemed normal.”

R.K. June 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Bing is also annoying because NoScript really breaks it.

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