Monday, June 22, 2009

A week without Google Search (Bing there done that)

I decided as an experiment to switch my default search engine in Firefox from Google to Microsoft's new Bing. That was last Monday; today I switched back to Google.

I made the switch using the Official Bing plug-in for Firefox and from then on I was binging instead of Googling.

The one-line summary: I found what I was looking for with Bing but I'm going back to Google.

Overall, Bing was an adequate substitute for Google, but didn't provide anything better. And in a few cases, it was worse.

I was able to find things faster with Google because the Google interface is cleaner. Although there's not much on the Bing page there's a distracting (to me) image at the top, the top menu fades into the colored background and there's an annoying left navigation thing that distracts from the main results. Visually these things sent my eyes searching around the page a bit more. (I think the 'related searches' on the LHS in Bing is a total distraction).

Here's a vanity search on Google (which I find easy to navigate):



And the same vanity search on Bing (lots of wasted space and a horizontal scroll bar):



However, the actual links that Bing was finding were just fine and in general I could easily find what I was looking for within the first five on either search engine. I didn't find Bing's cute popup page summary very helpful. I can usually figure out from the short summary below the link whether it's worth clicking on.

Bing really fails when it comes to news. It has no equivalent of a Google News search. Obviously, I'm interested in news stories about my book, The Geek Atlas so here's the search I do on Google News:



And here's the equivalent for Bing:



Also, Bing's image search is poorer than Google's. For example, when searching for images of a chi-square table on Google I get this:



With Bing I get irrelevant results and a horizontal scroll bar (yuck):



Overall, Bing is a worthy competitor for Google, but it's not worth switching to. Perhaps it will be one day.

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If you enjoyed this blog post, you might enjoy my travel book for people interested in science and technology: The Geek Atlas. Signed copies of The Geek Atlas are available.

4 Comments:

Blogger Random said...

You are fucking dumb. You should have switched to United States version to experience the real interface with neat features.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

@ Random: Steve Ballmer, is that you? You sneaky rogue, you.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

The bing search is worthless. It does not recognize phrazes.
I tried "sun in the sky you know".
Every normal search engine knows it's a song lyrics. Bing does not understand this simple thing.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Magice said...

Whoa, Bing can produce results comparable to Google? That's amazing, since my experience was the reverse: Bing's results were slightly better than those of Live Search, but still much worse than Google.

As an example, when I try to search for some information about VBScript (yes, Microsoft's technologies no less), it took me to the third page to decide that the thing I looked for must not exist. Well, I tried again with Google, and the result was on the first page T_T.

All in all, Bing is not worth switching over.

7:06 PM  

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