Over the past few years, I’ve blogged a number of times on Microsoft’s search offering from the early days of Windows Live Search through to it’s current Bing services. Despite my interest in Windows Live Search and Bing over that period, I still find myself using Google a lot of the time and I decided to try and find out why. One reason for me, which I’ve mentioned in my post From Windows Live Search to Bing in 6 years is the home page. Every time I visit the Bing homepage I find it distracting when I go there I go there to search. I know that the search box is there and I can easily move away from the home page by starting to type in it straight away. However, why is this page so busy with information, pictures and colours that I don’t care about? It would be nice if one can just customise that page to their own liking.
With that aside, I believe that the main reason that I use Google over Bing is that Bing is a latecomer and I’m already used to using Google. So, unless there’s an advantage that Bing offers over Google then put simply, what’s the point?
Lack of Innovation
In recent years Bing has introduced many new features that help in producing good search results. The posts I linked to earlier above cover some of these. However, both search engines still lack significant innovation and have not provided any improvement in the way we search for many years. It’s still just a search box. Here’s an example of things that both engines do which are simply pointless!
Both sets of pictures above between Google and Bing show features that most of us would not care about. Why would one care how long a search has taken or how many results have come back? When we’re searching we’re looking for information so what we care about is whether or not we got those. If a search is too slow, we will know, such as if a page takes to long to respond or doesn’t load results. The fact that we got 5 billion plus results back in 0.17 seconds doesn’t provide us with any value whatsoever.
The next thing is the results pages, rather than both search engines returning us tens, hundreds or even thousands of pages back, who views results in pages 5 or beyond for instance? Why don’t search engines try and allow us to refine our queries rather than let us scroll through pages and pages of results till we find what we’re looking for. So to both Google and Bing, I say, please remove all the page results and try and understand me and my query better so that you give me what I am looking for. Accurately.
The last paragraph above brings me to an interesting point. One reason I prefer Google over Bing in my day to day usage – and as a result I use Google more – is that for a lot of the queries that I do it would seem that Google knows me better and has a better understanding of what I am looking for. I think this is an area where Bing – the so called decision engine – needs to improve a lot. Below are some examples of where Google does better in that department in my view.
Finding out the current time
One query I perform often is searching for the current time in a particular location, Google has the smarts to display the result to me as the top returned item instead of requiring me to click on a link so that I find out the answer. Bing on the other hand doesn’t let me do that. Below are the results in Bing and Google and you can see that Google does better there.
As you can see above, doing the time search in Google has saved me time by displaying the actual time within the results page. In Bing, I would have to navigate to the www.timeanddatewebsite.com to find out the current time and this is a much slower process.
Recent sports results
There are many other areas where Google does much better than Bing in returning relevant results. One of them is recent sports results. I’m a tennis fan and regularly check for tournament results and once again Google makes that very simple but knowing which tournaments are currently on/recent and displays the results within the results page. Here’s some comparison between both engines.
Once again, as can be seen above, the Google search engine has had better understanding of my query and displayed to me all the recent tournament results for Andy Murray, which is exactly what I was looking for in this query. Bing unfortunately did not do the same. These are just two examples of things that Google does better than Bing and are among the reasons I use Google more often.
With these differences there might seem that there’s no reason to use Bing, and for me, that’s mostly the case. On the other hand, there are still some areas where Bing does really well.
Things Bing does better than Google
Going back to the original question of this post, unless you are searching for very specific things that Bing is known to do better than Google, there really is no reason at the present time to Bing given you can Google. Google is still better at understanding users – at least in my experience – and as a result I don’t think there’s enough reason for me to make the switch despite all my interest in Bing over the past few years.
Last words, Bing: you need to show us something new. You need to understand us better. Until then, it’s back to googling.