Microsoft has launched new search engine last week called Bing.
Bing: Microsoft's search engine unexpectedly live, but not LiveMicrosoft has made its new search engine available ahead of schedule, and is redirecting searches from Live Search to the new site
If you fancied using Microsoft's new search engine, it's unexpectedly live at http://www.bing.com/ . (According to Microsoft, it was being opened at the SMX search marketing conference in Seattle on Wednesday.)
Or rather, Microsoft's new "Decision Engine and consumer brand" is unexpectedly live. Microsoft says:
Bing is specifically designed to build on the benefits of today's search engines but begins to move beyond this experience with a new approach to user experience and intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions, focusing initially on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business.
Bing is not Live Search, though obviously it's based on it, and the current UK beta version still has Live's front page layout, rather than a menu down the left hand side, which is the format for the US version. The UK also doesn't seem to have any image hot spots, and other features. To get the "real thing," go here.
It's too soon to say whether Bing will attract long-term users, rather than tyre-kickers. However, the reception on Twitter has been reasonably positive.
It does seem to work much better than Google for finding real product info and reviews, where Google's results are loaded with spam and price comparison rubbish. As @studentsoftware noted on Twitter: "Keyword stuffing that skews Google search results doesn't quite work in bing. Bing 1 Google 0. Over to you SEO gurus..."
Some Google commands also work -- for example, try ["psp go" site:guardian.co.uk] -- which could ease the changeover.
The Search History feature, which keeps a list of your previous searches down the left hand side, is obvious but excellent.
But in most respects, Google still rules. The fact is that Bing is an incomplete beta, and while it's not bad, it's not actually a match for Google at the moment.
Microsoft knows perfectly well that it's going to take it "years and years and years" (in Steve Ballmer's words) to get anywhere in search, if it ever does. It knows it has to overtake Yahoo first. In that sense, comparisons with Google are misguided, though we're all making them. In reality, Bing is competing with Yahoo and Ask to be the leading Google alternative, and that's how its success -- or failure -- should be evaluated.