Microsoft hasn’t had the best of luck with its search engine really. As far as we can tell, since 2005 its Google competitor has been called MSN Search, Windows Live Search and – most recently – Live Search.
It’s a bit unfair to suggest that the only thing that changed in that time was the name. Microsoft’s developers have been working hard to out-Google Google. But when you’re trying to establish your brand as a serious competitor to the search giant, such naming confusion can’t be anything other than a hindrance.
Now it’s called Bing
Everything changed yet again a few days ago, as Microsoft ditched the Live Search name and unveiled Bing to the world. Yes, Bing.
At first glance it doesn’t look too different to Google. The simple home page has a nice photo that changes daily and there’s an obvious search box and a few other options. So far, so good.
When you run a search, you’ll see a familiar looking list of results. We’ve not played with it much, but we noticed two things immediately:
- There’s a dot to the right of each result in the list. When you roll your mouse over it, an overlay appears displaying more information from that site. It looks like the idea is to provide more information before you actually click through.
- Many searches return a list of related search terms on the left of the page. Sure, Google displays these at the bottom of its results, but it’s handy to have them there.
There also seem to be some other nice touches, but sadly lots of these appear to be restricted to the US version of the site. For instance, there’s travel search which can tell you if flight prices are more likely to go up or down.
Will it succeed?
So, putting aside what you think of the name (and please do leave a comment to let us know!), the proof of this search engine will be in the quality of its results.
If Microsoft can persuade people to switch from Google to try it (not an easy task in itself), the only way they’ll get people to stick with Bing is if it delivers better results than Google, almost all of the time. That’s quite some task.
We haven’t used Bing enough yet to form an opinion of whether it’s significantly better than its predecessors, or anything like as good as Google. We’ll try and take it for a proper test drive though.
In the meantime, what do you think? Have you tried it? Do you think Microsoft will ever be a serious rival to Google in search, or should they just give up now?