Goodbye Google, Hello Bing and a Bonus Firefox Tip

I have recently switched to Bing as my primary search engine. And according to this TechCrunch article, I’m not the only one. I remember my first searches on the internet were with AltaVista in the computer lab of my high school. But soon thereafter I like so many others switched to Google and have been a loyal Google Search and GMail user since. Until about mid 2009 shortly after Microsoft had announced it was replacing its awful MSN Search with something that could take on Google. I figured I already use Microsoft’s products for most of my computing needs, I might as well give this a try. Especially, after I couldn’t find my blog via Google (they have added it to their index in the meantime, though).

And I certainly have not regretted tht move. Sure, internet search is still synonymous with Google for most people, but there are a couple things that I think Bing does a lot better than Google.

First, there is the start page. Sure, Google’s simplistic “just a search box” design was a neat feature back when we all had dial-up connections and Yahoo’s bloated front page took for ever to load, but nowadays I have broadband and my 16MBit/s connection doesn’t mind loading a large and pretty image such as the one gracing the Bing homepage.

As far as search results go, I think Bing is pretty much on-par with Google. I haven’t had a single instance were I didn’t find the information I was looking for on Bing, but did on Google. Also, Bing’s preview feature where it displays a longer excerpt from the page on the right hand side when you hover over a result has proven invaluable to me. No more clicking on an irrelevant link when I can already tell from the preview that the page doesn’t have what I’m looking for.

Next, there is image search. Google displays the results of an image search as a static page with 20 images in a grid. If you want to see the next 20 search results, you have to click through to the second page and wait for it to load. Bing on the other hand has a scrollable content area that dynamically reloads images as you scroll down. Nice!

Finally, there is Bing’s Visual Search. Visual search is great when you are looking for something, but don’t know what it is called. Say you saw a movie poster and want to know more about it, but don’t recall the movie’s title. In that case you would be lost with a traditional Google search that always requires a search term. With Bing you could try the Movies in Theaters section and scroll through the images until you find the one of the movie you were looking for.

If you want to see for yourself, I should mention that many of the newer features are only available in the U.S. version of Bing. If you live outside the United States, however, you can add “?mkt=en-us” to the end of the URL to have Bing default to the U.S. version. So instead of http://www.bing.com just bookmark http://www.bing.com/?mkt=en-us and you are good to go.

Bonus Firefox Tip: In a related matter, I have finally figured out how to use Firefox’s “search keyword” feature properly. If you don’t know this feature either, here’s the deal: open bing.com in Firefox, right-click in the search box and click on “Add a Keyword for this Search…”. This let’s you create a special kind of bookmark that is linked to a keyword. Use “b” (without the quotes) for the keyword for simplicity. Until now, I had to find my Bing bookmark, wait for the page to load, enter my search term, hit enter and then wait again for the results to come back. Now, I just need to go to the address bar (for instance by pressing Ctrl+L), enter “b StefanH Nexus”, hit enter and I am taken directly to the Bing search results for this blog (i.e. “StefanH Nexus”). As I rarely take my hands off the keyboard this is sure going to save me hundreds of unnecessary mouse clicks every day.

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