A Quick Tour of Bing the Search Engine

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What is Bing?

Bing logo

Microsoft has firmly thrown its hat into the search ring with Bing, a "decision" engine. In this walk-through, we're going to look at what makes Bing different from other search engines, and what it has to offer you as the searcher.

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The Bing Homepage

Bing
The Bing Homepage.

The homepage is clean and uncluttered. Right off the bat, users can narrow their search options with the menu on the left: options are Images, Videos, Shopping, News, Maps, or Travel. You can also check out the rotating bits of information at the bottom of the homepage; there's a "Popular Now" link that will show you what topics are currently getting the most buzz.

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Bing Quick Preview

Bing Quick Preview
Bing Quick Preview.

The Bing Quick Preview is a great way for you to get an idea of what's on a site before you actually click on it. This is definitely a time saver, as many sites in search results don't necessarily offer exactly what you are looking for. Your search term is highlighted in the Quick Preview window, so you can see that yes, indeed, it is in that particular site's information.

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Instant Answers

Bing Instant Answers
Bing Instant Answers.

Bing's Instant Answers feature quickly grabs all the pertinent information that you need on your query. In this screenshot, you can see a quick flight status search; all you need is the flight number and you're good to go.

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Related Searches

Bing Related Searches
Bing Related Searches and Quick Tabs.

Any search you perform on Bing, for instance, U2 (as seen above), will come back with a wide variety of filtering options. For example, in this screenshot, the search was simply for "U2". You can see Bing's Quick Tabs option to the left there; this offers refinements and/or suggestions for your search, i.e., videos, songs, tickets, merchandise, etc.

This search initially started with U2, with a click on the Videos Quick Tab. You'll see screenshot previews of relevant videos, along with a neat video search filter there on the bottom left-hand side that sorts these videos according to length, screen size, resolution, or source.

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Rich Listing Results

Bing Rich Listings
Bing Rich Listing Results.

One of the best things about Bing is the Rich Listing Results - another way to present combined information.  For example, a search for a restaurant in Seattle doesn't just bring back multiple lists of links; you'll get a one-page resource including addresses, reviews, maps, driving directions, even photos.

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Travel

Bing Travel
Bing Travel.

Bing really starts to shine in its Travel search. A quick search for airfare from Portland, Oregon to Misawa, Japan brings back rich results:

  • Non-stop or a few layovers option
  • Times of takeoff and landing
  • A sliding scale for price
  • The option to compare prices in other travel search sites (Expedia, PriceLine, etc.)
  • The ability to track fares via email alerts

In addition to flight information, you can also use Bing to search for hotels, cars, cruises, even package deals. In addition, you can frame searches for low fares across departure dates and looks at multiple routes in one map view. 

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Image Search

bing images
Bing Image Search.

Finding images on Bing is a snap. A search for "Cannon Beach" images brought back multiple results, as expected, but the search filters found to the left make it even easier to find what you're looking for. 

For example, you can search by size (small, medium, large, and wallpaper, layout, color or black and white, style (photograph or illustration), and people (just faces, head and shoulders, or other).

Another search for "tennis" brought back more generalized results, with the option (via the Quick Tabs) to narrow down or expand the search; in this case with related searches such as US Open, Wimbledon, and Serena Williams.

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Health Search

Bing Health
Bing Health Search.

We probably all share the experience of searching for a medical term in a search engine and getting back a ton of results that are either unreliable or unrelated. Bing tackles this problem with a carefully selected cadre of trusted and verified medical resources (Mayo Clinic, Medicine.net, etc.). This makes it a lot easier to find results you can trust on nearly any health-related question you might have.

A search for "carpal tunnel symptoms" brought back an instant answer from the Mayo Clinic, with the option of related searches and medically approved articles as well - much better than going through a ton of links that might not be telling me what users need to know.

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Shopping

Bing Shopping
Bing Shopping.

Online shopping is a major activity on the Web; in fact, more people today are shopping on the Web than ever before in history. Bing knows this and makes the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible.

A search for "ceiling fans" returned results grouped by best match, best user ratings, or price, with the option of following their related searches and search refinements on the left as well.

 

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Bing - Worth a Look

Bing logo

Bing delivers fresh, relevant, and easy to follow results, and is definitely user-friendly. The search channels (Travel, Shopping, Images, etc.) send you right to the resources you want, the various search refinements (Instant Answers, Rich Results, Quick Tabs) are actually quite useful and don't require a degree in computer science to figure out, and it's easy on the eyes (not too simple, not too cluttered).

The best thing about Bing? You don't have to go all over the Web to get what you're looking for. The search tool attempts to keep your search results all in one convenient place so you can see all the information you need at a glance (something that other search engines need to emulate). Overall, it is surprisingly innovative, filtering out the "fluff" on the Web so you can get to what you want.