Have you been using Microsoft’s (and now Yahoo’s) new Bing search engine in conjunction with Google for searches? I have, partly because of the novelty, and partly because Bing does a few interesting things that Google doesn’t, including good natural language searches. Webware has published an interesting roundup of a slew of mashup applications designed to let you perform Bing and Google searches simultaneously, with, in some cases, dual-paned views of search results. These include CompareGoogle and Google-Bing, but the most useful one appears to be Bing vs. Google. It gives you a dual-paned view of results from both search engines, and has some shortcomings, but while using it I got a better sense than ever of what Bing and Google, respectively, are good at.
One thing that Bing does well is give you categories and suggestions related to your searches on the left-hand side of your search results screen. You can get a real feel for how the two search engines differ in this regard by going to Bing-vs.-Google and entering, say, the name of a software application in which you’re interested. As seen in the screenshot above, I typed in “GIMP” for a search there, (GIMP is a popular open-source graphics application) and Bing gave me a number of links on the left side of my screen that were more helpful than Google’s links, including a prominently placed link for downloading the app.
As I’ve noted before, Bing is also very good at natural language searches, for answering questions such as “Which companies has Google acquired?” It’s good at these because technology from Powerset, leveraging the clustered query intelligence found in the Hadoop software framework, is built into Bing. Using Bing vs. Google, I was able to get several better answers to natural language questions from Bing than I was from Google.
One thing that I wish Bing vs. Google could do is allow me to search for images and video. I can’t see any way to do so, and it’s a shame, because both search engines are good at retrieving pictures and video, and both have their own advantages. For example, Bing lets you hover your mouse arrow over video thumbnails, and see the videos playing in thumbnails before you go to the trouble of visiting the pages on which they’re housed. I wish I could do that on the left of Bing vs. Google’s dual-paned view, while viewing Google’s results on the right.
Google remains my favorite search engine for its reliability and accuracy, but Bing shines at some tasks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the Bing/Google mashup applications grow and become useful. For now, Bing vs. Google is mainly a novelty, but it does help drive home some of the unique advantages that the two search engines have.
Do you turn to Bing for certain tasks, or does Google remain your default browser?