by Marcus Moolan

Microsofts latest offering- Bing, was unveiled to the international community on June 1st and has been its most recent attempts at snatching Googles, nearly 62% market share stranglehold in the Search Engine sector. With a stunning picture, lacing the Bing welcome screen each day, Microsoft certainly has continued with its debunked Live Search fundamentals of being as different from the plain Google as possible.

Bing was fomenting for a long time in Microsofts backyard and came out front after Microsofts ambitious takeover of Powersoft with its semantic search systems. Bing put those skills to good use with its results turning out pretty much, as accurate as Google on certain sets of keywords such as Paris Hilton or Arnold Schwarzenegger with an xRank feature indicating their popularity, But Bing does turn out some wonderfully vague results with more complex questions like I think Im going to die something Google avoids by bringing up links to self help pages.

The explorer pane on the right side provides handy links to search categories, if any while a pop up window allows a sneak peek at the site contents before you open it. Bing also remembers your search history and displays similar search queries as you type, however this feature can be turned off to avoid potential embarrassment (a lesson for Google here!). This Check-in-Bing facility is also extended to Video results with excerpts of each video played within Bing itself. Images can also be easily found with a point by point search for size, shape or the presence of people and zoomed in for a better look with links to similar images as well.

Videos can be filtered by length, screen size, resolution, and a large range of sources (MSN, MTV, BBC, YouTube or Daily Motion). There’s also the cool feature of playing a video in parts simply by hovering your mouse while in the browser! Microsoft has worked the hardest at providing people with the data they need on important searches like Travel, Shopping and Health. Other websites offer only a dizzying array of links when you want to get an air ticket to Seattle, find a good Sushi Bar or need sound advice on your peanut allergies, but Bing actually searches, compiles and presents information in an ordered form with tabulated comparisons and reviews.

Bing continues Lives tradition in offering the Cashback scheme to users who shop using Bing and returns a portion of the purchase made if a sale is confirmed. The shopping experience is also a lot better, due to a plethora of user and expert reviews offered along with a list of similar brands to compare prices with. However accessing these features requires a bit of digging in and is not easy for new users to be familiar with.

Lastly News and Maps could definitely use some tweaking as they are way behind Googles international standards and local penetration. Bing it seems is currently geared towards a more American audience with almost all listings for travel, news and shopping reverting to USA. This can loose Microsoft some valued customers in its ambitious plans to target local populations. Bing might get better at handling searches, but it really needs to give the larger international audience access to its best features Travel, Shopping and decisive searches.

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