Bing Encourages Visual Search

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Microsoft on Monday introduced a new "Visual Search" feature in its Bing search engine.

The feature lets people look for items or subjects when they can't remember the name of what they're looking for.

A user might have seen a movie trailer and forgotten the title of the movie or the main actor. With Visual Search, the user can scroll through a gallery of movie trailers in Bing to find the one in question. Once the person finds the movie, hovering over it displays details like the rating, reviews and how much it grossed at the box office.

(See Related: Microsoft Updates Bing with 'Visual Search' Feature)

Current Visual Search galleries fall in categories including entertainment, famous people, reference, shopping and sports.

The feature is likely one that Microsoft executives showed off to employees last week at the annual company meeting. At the time, workers posted Twitter messages that hinted of an update to Bing that would likely appear this week.

To use Visual Search, people must first download Silverlight, a hurdle that could impede usage. Some computer users report problems with downloading the multimedia plugin, which also may be blocked by corporate security systems.

Web users can also search for images on Google, without downloading a tool like Silverlight. Google suggests that people use the "similar images" link under an image to find other like pictures.

Microsoft says Visual Search is available to anyone but is in beta and the release got off to a bit of a rocky start. In the comments under the blog post introducing the feature, several people report getting an access denied message or a message saying the site doesn't exist when trying to open the page.

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