What Is Bing?
Today you have many search engines to choose from. Each search engine offers you both standard keyword search options and a few special features. One of the newest search engines to hit the streets is Microsoft's Bing. Let's see what interesting features Bing has, and how it differs from the others...
Bing – A New Kind of Search Engine
Bing is a new search engine from Microsoft. It's a lot like other search engines in that it allows you to use keywords to search for web content and it allows you to search for content based on category searches. I was a little worried that the name rhymed with "cha-ching!" and wondered if it was an inside joke by the folks at Microsoft. But Bing does have some unique features that make it worth a try.
First of all it is being promoted as a "decision-engine" as opposed to a "search engine." This is because its features give you more information about your search results than Google or Yahoo! For example, if you place your mouse over of your search results, then slide over to the little orange circle, an expanded description of the website will appear. It took me a while to figure out WHY that little orange circle was over there, but it's a useful way to preview a link before you leap.
Another unique feature is found under the "Video" tab. Here you can search for a specific type of video. Once your results are presented you can mouse over the video you are interested in. When you do this the video will play from the thumbnail. The audio may be more useful than the video, because it's so tiny. And I wonder how long it will take the video sites like Youtube start suing Microsoft for effectively stealing their content and incorporating it into the Bing interface.
The shopping tab allows you to not only find the items that you are interested in by brand name, item item or even color, but Bing will also harvest product reviews, ratings and prices for each of the products in your search results.
If you're searching for plane tickets, and you enter "flights from NYC to Orlando" Bing will present you with a "cheap flights" link that shows you whether prices are likely to rise or fall, and a calendar that shows how the price may vary depending on your departure and return dates. If you continue into the Bing Travel interface, you can compare prices from multiple travel sites, and even see the best time of day to schedule your flight to get the lowest rates.
Cashback ProgramOne feature of the Bing search engine that will appeal to online shoppers is the Cashback program. Here's how Cashback works... Visit Bing, click on the Shopping link and search for a product, like "mp3 player" for example. Some of the results will have a "Bing cashback" link and a cashback savings percentage. Compare and sort the products by price or ratings, then click to go to the online store. After making an eligible purchase, you'll get an email confirming your Bing cashback savings.
You can earn up to $2,500 per year with this program. As your earnings accumulate you will see them post to your Cashback account, usually within 60 days of earning the cashback reward. You will need at least $5 in your account before you can claim your earnings. You can get your cashback rewards via a check, a direct deposit into your checking account or a money transfer into your Paypal account. In order to participate in this program you must be over 18 years old and you will also need a Windows Live account.
Bing Versus Other Search Engines
Bing has some cool features, such as the cashback program, expanded information for search results, video previews and shopping tools. But the most common thing I've heard people saying is that "it looks a lot like Google." There are some nifty features in Bing, but maybe the bare-bones interface makes them a little hard to find.
Bing may not convince the masses to switch over from Google or Yahoo in the short term, but it's worth a look. The official launch of Bing is slated for June 3 2009, but you can try it out now.
UPDATE: After publishing this article and stewing for a few hours, I've put a finger on my discomfort with Bing. I'll sum it up in two words: Tight Integration. It's the hallmark of everything that Microsoft does wrong. Products like Internet Explorer, Outlook, and Office are so tightly bound to the Windows OS, and that has caused both security and anti-trust concerns. Now I see that everything that comes out of Bing -- the search results, the travel recommendations, the shopping system, etc -- is all tightly bound to MS. It's designed to keep you in Bing, or at least in some web sphere that benefits Microsoft. That's not necessarily bad, but it does cast a shadow on the accuracy and/or relevance of the results they present. Anyone else have concerns about this?
Have you tried Bing? Post a comment and tell us what you think...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 2 Jun 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What Is Bing? (Posted: 2 Jun 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved