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Microsoft Bing review

Free

Manufacturer: Microsoft

User Rating: Our users rate this 3 out of 10

At last, Bing has arrived. We tested a preview release of Microsoft's new search/decision engine, previously called Kumo, to see how well it compares. Here's a breakdown of its new features and how well they perform.

At last, Bing has arrived. We tested a preview release of Microsoft's new search/decision engine, previously called Kumo, to see how well it compares. Here's a breakdown of its new features and how well they perform.

Bing: New Explorer Pane

Bing's new look focuses on a lefthand 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.

For example, a search on "Nikon D70" triggers the Explorer Pane to create Quick Tabs for shopping, accessories, and videos all based on what your intent might be.

Under Quick Tabs in the Explorer Pane are additional subcategories such as 'Related Searches' and 'Search History'; the latter, as its name implies, shows you recent searches. Microsoft asserts that 50 percent of all searches are repeats, and that providing a session history therefore offers a shortcut to results of redundant searches.

Our take: The Explorer Pane can be extremely useful, which may make the trade-off of cluttering up the search results page worthwhile. But in our initial tests, Quick Tabs often steered me to Microsoft services such as Bing Shopping, Bing Travel, MSN Autos, and Bing health information.

It may be that those Bing sites offer the best content, but we get suspicious of any search engine that habitually gives its own links precedence over others'.

NEXT PAGE: search now categorised

Microsoft Bing Expert Verdict »

Internet connection

Bing is no game changer when it comes to search. Though the new search engine is a great start, Microsoft still has work to do. With Bing, results don't seem as intuitive as with Google. Try entering a residential street address in Bing and the search results show you a website - not a map - that often seems unrelated to the address you typed in. (When we entered a business address, we did see a map.)

Type the same address into Google, and the search results prominently feature a map with the address. Bing offers the same type of map, but you have to select Bing Maps to find it. How can Microsoft try so hard and yet get something as simple as address lookup wrong? We don't know.

Bing seems to be working toward two goals, one external and one internal. To the public, Bing offers a slick interface for finding answers (not always websites) fast. But within the house of Microsoft, Bing represents a needed integration of existing services (such as the Cashback program) and recent acquisitions (such as Farecast and Powerset) into the company's search family.

Will the masses start binging instead of googling? If Microsoft continues to make progress with its ongoing tweaks and improvements to Bing - and steamrolls the existing landscape with its promised massive advertising campaign, it stands a chance of converting more than an impressionable few.

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