Bing: Microsoft's New Search Engine
Microsoft has replaced Live Search with a new brand: Bing. The new Microsoft search destination is in part an overhaul of Live Search and in part a renovation of Microsoft’s search technology. According to Microsoft, Bing lets you find Web content fast and excels at refining searches so that you can unearth the lowest airfares, discover reviews of neighborhood boutiques, or track down reliable health information from the Mayo Clinic.
Here is a slideshow overview of the Bing.
For additional detailed coverage, see Hands On With Bing, Microsoft's New Search Engine.
Note: Bing lets you change the front page image by using the navigation arrows in the lower right side of the screen to select images from past days.
A key element of Bing's new look is a left-hand navigation menu called the Explorer Pane. This extra column of content includes Quick Tabs that break searches down into Web Groups relevant to your search. A search for “Chicago” automatically generates related categories that Bing predicts you’re looking for. Quite different Explorer Pane categories are generated by a search for “type 2 diabetes”--for example, 'Articles', 'Symptoms', and 'Diet'.
This left-hand column also displays other information related to your search, such as 'Related Searches' and 'Search History'. Search History shows you your most recent searches so you don't have to start over when you want to repeat a search.
Categorized Search Results
Bing categorizes search results for many queries. Search for " hybrid cars" and the search results (located in the center column) appear under Bing-categorized search headings. The query “hybrid cars” was broken into six categories, including the three shown here: 'Hybrid Car Accessories', 'Hybrid Car Parts', and 'Hybrid Car Repair'.
The top results are weighted results that come from the Internet and are not sorted or categorized in any way.
In Bing, Microsoft introduces a Quick Previews feature that provides a text-based synopsis of the pages displayed in your search results. When you drag your mouse cursor over individual search results, a Quick Previews box of data pops up, containing information from the site.
Bing peppers its search results with what Microsoft calls Instant Answers. As the name implies, Instant Answers entries serve up answers to common questions related to currency conversion, weather forecasts, movie times, or whatever you're investigating.
Save & Share Feature
Save & Share lets you save, organize, and share recent searches. You can share searches with Facebook or Windows Live friends, or save them to your Microsoft SkyDrive folder. The Save & Share function not only allows you to save your favorite searches, but also lets you organize them into folders and add notes to them.
According to Microsoft, 50 percent of all searches are repeats; saving your favorite searches offers a shortcut to the results of a search that you might otherwise have to repeat from scratch.
New Image and Video Search
The primary difference between Live Search and Bing is the user interface. Bing Image and Video Search is more intuitive than its predecessor, Microsoft says, and all of the filtering tools are conveniently and consistently grouped in the Explorer Pane.
Microsoft retooled Live Search's Image and Video Search to make it easier for users to find full-length TV shows, music videos, and other video content from leading content providers such as Hulu and YouTube.
Going Local: Sentiment Extraction
Microsoft has updated the search engine's interface so that you can extract what the company calls “sentiment” regarding a particular service or business. This feature works by scanning consumer product ratings from sites such as CitySearch.com and Yelp.com, and mashing those results together with Bing search results.
For example, a search for “Italian restaurants” brings up a 'Local' tab in the left-hand pane (the Explorer Pane) of the search results page. Select this tab, and you can browse local Italian restaurants within a geographical area you select. Click on one of the restaurants listed in the search results, and Bing serves up a Score Card containing ratings for several key criteria: 'Atmosphere', 'Food Quality', and 'Return Potential'.
Bargain Hunting: Gear
Suppose that you're shopping for a Nikon D90 digital SLR (or some other product). Bing will deliver detailed reports--not search results--for the product in question, pulling images, pricing information, user reviews, expert reviews, and much more from various Web sites and neatly displaying the information on a single page. Search reports include active data that you can sort by various criteria, yielding product details in one click, along with expert reviews from leading tech Web sites.
Bargain Hunting: Airfare
Using technology that it acquired when it purchased Farecast in 2008, Microsoft brings some uniquely advanced technology to search queries involving travel and buying tickets. Farecast, a tool for comparing airfares, uses a predictive algorithm to recommend when you should purchase your airline ticket. The Farecast technology is tightly integrated with Bing, so you can use advanced pricing tools from within Bing's search results.
Bargain Hunting: Hotels
Farecast technology enables Microsoft to bring smarts to the task of finding good prices for hotel reservations. When you search for accommodations within a specific region, Bing travel results show you a category of results that it calls Hotel Deals. According to Microsoft, Bing calculates the historical price of a room at a specific hotel, compares that price with the current rate that the hotel is offering, and assesses whether the current price is a good deal.
Bing offers a wealth of new content from the Mayo Clinic, allowing it to serve up reliable data on health topics such as diabetes, cancer, and swine flu. A test query for "swine flu" yielded a Mayo Clinic overview of the H1N1 type A influenza strain. This article included direct links to Mayo Clinic topics such as "Flu symptoms self-assessment: Do you have the flu?" "Flu germs: How long can they live outside the body?," and "Flu shot: Your best bet for avoiding influenza."
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