Bing! Search reaches new heights – or does it?

It might sound like the sound a microwave makes when it finishes heating up your ready-meal (or whatever), but Bing is in fact a new search engine from Microsoft.

Well, I say ‘new’. Really they’ve sort of applied a spit’n’polish reworking to their uninspiring and largely unsuccessful Live Search. Launched this week, the new search engine is intended to compete with Google the (so far) undisputed king of search, and according to Microsoft, Bing will focus on four key areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition, and finding a local business.

So why do we need a new search engine? Well, Microsoft reckon that Bing brings us new and shinier search results in the following ways:

  • Bing was developed to help consumers make decisions, not just to catalogue content.
  • Bing organizes results by searcher relevance, rather than by algorithm relevance.
  • Bing filters out results that aren’t relevant

So you put in ‘where shall I go on holiday?’ and Bing will tell you? Right? Helping make decisions sounds fine in principle, and organising results based on what types of results have proven relevant to former searchers may or may not work, depending on who the former searchers were and whether they were looking for the same stuff you are. But filtering out results that aren’t relevant?? Surely that’s the whole POINT of a search engine? It’s not like Google goes “yes, I know you searched for ‘website design’ but here are some results on fishing”.

Still, natural scepticism about Microsoft products aside, early feedback seems to be pretty good. There’s an air of surprise about it, but there’s also a lot of people who are cautiously impressed. But, good or not, Bing will have a hell of a long way to go before it can think about competing with Google’s extremely dominant market share. You could argue that once the phrase ‘Googling’ became synonymous with searching, it was all over for everyone else.

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