Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bing Bing

Okay, here is the situation. I have really been trying hard to figure out what is the point of Microsoft Bing. I have asked around, heard people say they liked it, but gotten no concrete answers that I can write about. I have looked at the site, discovered little, and I wondered if I was trying hard enough.

I often find that Microsoft is all about state of the art technology, but without the passion and soul. Natal, Milo, rumors of touch screen desks sound great, but they're almost too sterile. There's a reason that people always buy ipods and iphones, and Zune's end up flooding Ebay on December 26th. Microsoft does not seem to embrace the human aspect with their products.

Nevertheless, I am a team player and I want to experiece Bing. I'm going to spend 10 minutes messing around with this thing and I'll tell you what I find.

Okay, 10 minutes are up, and I have to say, I found something useful for Bing.

I started out by logging in and going to the homepage. You get a nice picture to start, but unlike iGoogle, there is no customization feature for the site.

One thing I noticed is that Bing is pretty heavy on shopping and selling of goods. I am not saying that is a bad thing however. Many people love internet shopping. Why spend 20 minutes driving to the mall, 40 minutes walking around stores, 5 minutes on line, and 20 minutes driving home(after spending 10 trying to remember where you parked). Bing is holing up their end of retail by giving you options. This search for Charles Darwin gives a huge selection of options. It shows his books, prices, the publishing company link as well as other tidbits. You can find a selection of his interviews, quotes, and videos about him. There's a feature called Bing cashback which I didn not get to during my 10 minutes, but I would guess it's a sale price for shopping through Bing.

The travel section of Bing was also helpful. Instead of going to US Airways, Jet Blue, and every other airline's individual websites, you can do all of that on Bing. Here, I put in information for a trip to Charlotte, NC from NYC. If I was the jetsetting type, I would enjoy seeing the cheap last minute flights at the bottom of the page. After I put in the information I got a listing of flights that fit my criteria.Bing gave me a listing of all of the flights it found. The lowest price was $138 USD which I assume is for a roundtrip flight since I paid $200 for round trip on July 4th weekend. I also like the feature in the top left which gives a suggestion on if I should buy now or wait. When i was researching tickets for my previous trip I went to 5 different airline flights to compare prices, but this was much quicker. As a side note they also have info on booking a hotel as well, but with only 10 minutes, I had to keep the ball rolling.

As far as the basic purpose of Bing, a web search engine, it's good but not life altering.
I searched my favorite band, Dream Theater, and I got the standard links. The left column did show customized links for Dream Theater that would be helpful. Pictures, lyrics and concert tickets (Bing's always trying to make a buck) are all links that someone looking up the band might find useful. Also when you search a site, you can mouse over this little orange ball that gives you a quick description of the website.
It's nothing major, but these features could save you some time because you can figure out what websites have instead of wasting your time clicking on links that may not suit your needs.

The video feature on Bing is also a strong feature. After searching Michael Jackson, I had videos come up that I could actually watch on the site without having to go to another page.

General video searches also have value as they are well organized. You don't have to search through a billion videos to find full episodes of a television show as there are tabs to seperate everything.I did not get a chance to see everything that Bing has to offer, (I only gave myself 10 minutes) but I did see enough to feel that there is a market for this search engine. I think Bing's biggest problem will be getting people to get more comfortable with Bing then Google. Sometimes when things aren't broke you don't want to fix it. Bing just has to figure what is broken about Google and they might have a chance.
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