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Bing not so nice

Bing.com is, as you will know unless you have been completed cut off from this world for a long time, Microsoft’s latest attempt at wooing internet search users.

Bing has just started to become publicly available. And its first impressions are, well, not so good.

To begin with, the homepage doesn’t display properly on my browser. No, I am using Firefox 3, not some under the stone browser. It the search box, somehow, obscures the lower horizontal half of what I type. Not good.

Next, the search. Some of the results are downright awry. I am a university student, and I use Google heavily for my purposes. So as a test, I searched for “atmega8535 programmer circuitry”. Bing reports a plethora of buying option for this particular microcontroller. Google presents me with, well, a page containing the ATMEGA8535 programmer circuitry. Wide gap.

Then, I decided to try something more common. I tried “formula 1 ferrari”. Google shows me the top two results as the Ferrari homepage as well as the Formula 1 official site. Reasonable. What Bing shows me is just the Formula 1 site, and then the next results is something about the Shell and Ferrari partnership. In fact, the Ferrari homepage is nowhere on the first page. Google also offers me some images. Bing? No. Talk about a decision engine.

Type in a popular name, such as “avg” or “opensolaris”, and Google offers sublinks to the most important pages of the top site. Very useful if I already know what I am looking for, and want to go directly to some page. Bing doesn’t.

What Bing does offer is a text preview of each link. This can be very handy, but for complex searches, the relevant content is often down the page. This wouldn’t help you decide, then.

Bing also uses a three column layout, as opposed to Google two columns. Bing places the related links and the history of your searches (which it remembers, unlike Google) in the left most, results in the second and the previews in the third. Personally, I prefer the two column layout, specifically if I am working in a very small sized window.

Indeed, the only real positive feature is Bing’s homepage, which is not only attractive, but also interactive. Hovering the mouse over various positions lets you view interesting snippets of information regarding whatever the page happens to be displaying. This can make it a really interesting page to set as your browser’s default home.

But at the end, Google is still king – and by a massive margin. I, at least, won’t be using Bing for search. I’ll just bookmark it, and come to it for the pretty pictures, now and then.

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