My Week With Bing

Switching to Bing for a week had no meaningful impact on my internet experience, either positively or negatively. I was able to find most of what I was looking for with Bing and I enjoyed the experience. That said, I found no reason to switch from Google and I am returning to my practice of relying on Google as my primary search engine.

Here's some high level thoughts:

– Bing's image search is an improvement over Google's. When I look for an image, in the past, I would go to Flickr first and Google second. In the future, I'll go to Flickr first and Bing second.

– Bing doesn't know about social media. If you search Joanne Wilson on Google, my wife's Gotham Gal blog is the first result. If you search Joanne Wilson on Bing, it's not even on the first page.

– Bing's search results feel less "real time" than Google's, probably as a result from the lack of news links. This is an area both need to work on.

– There's a lot less paid links in Bing's service than Google's. I view that as a bad thing although many will view that as a good thing. On many ecommerce searches, I prefer the paid links over the organic links, which are often spammed up.

Our portfolio company, Clickable, which offers a easy to use front end to search and keyword ad buying for small businesses, did something similar last week and published their thoughts on the Clickable blog. They were more analytical in their analysis than me but came to pretty much the same conclusions.

That's my quick take. I'd love to hear all of yours.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. GiordanoBC

    Interesting that, as Bing launches, the Chinese government clamps down on the Chinese-language version of Google, forcing them to remove all links to foreign sites and the auto-complete feature (supposedly for “abetting pornografy”), making them much less appealing to Chinese users than the local leader, Baidu, and now Bing.It might just be a random coincidence, or it might be related to the 1B USD investment in research that Microsoft has committed to in China, and that has bought them very good guanxi (“relationship” in Chinese) with the government, which Google hasn’t been able to replicate yet. Microsoft also got it wrong for the first few years, before realizing that being successful in China requires lots of money, effort and respect for local rules.

    1. fredwilson

      One reason why I’m not too eager to invest in china. I like open, free, and transparent markets. Its not surprising that microsoft likes doing business in china. I don’t

      1. paramendra

        The web will humble China ultimately.

    2. Druce Vertes

      the Chinese authorities pick winners and put the thumb on the scales in their favor, no doubt. With 70+% market share Baidu would be the intended beneficiary as opposed to also-ran Bing. ‘Respect for local rules’ sometimes means becoming an instrument of government censorship and media control and not exactly something to be proud of.

      1. GiordanoBC

        Putting aside arguments on why engaging is better than not engaging, as a major global corporation and as a listed company, not doing business in China on moral grounds would be tantamount to a breach of duties to shareholders

        1. fredwilson

          Thankfully my ‘shareholders’ don’t really want me investing in china

    3. scottfromshanghai

      this is nonesense. Bing and hotmail were recently blocked in China for over a week during the Tianamen anniversary, Google was not.

  2. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Pretty much concur, Fred.Currently I am really enjoying/impressed by Spezify – tried it? I’d suggest it is worth a look:http://www.spezify.com/

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll check it out

    2. alainaugsburger

      I like the feel of this spezify tool. Not mature yet and many features are missing, but, it feels a bit like the Nintendo Wii as compared to the traditional search engines.Most search engines give fairly accurate results (i was definitely not convince by Bing, though), but, UIs did not improve ever since the 90s.In my view, search engines should work on reducing the time required to find what users are really looking for, out of the top 50 or top 100 results.The search engine that will be able to do that will have me as a user, until then, i will stick to Google.

    3. Kevin Chan

      I have to say, that spezify has greatly impressed me. It is visually pleasing, and the way you drag around and click on everything, feels great!

      1. ShanaC

        I’m not..I feel overwhelmed by the choice of columns as opposed to other forms of visual mapping such as some sort of three dimensional flowchart that one can flip around (They are using flash…)Nor am I sure why they are starting out at the local they are for their results if I can move north/south/east/west through the links. What is going on that gives me the results I am getting? What do they mean? Why should I care about the center point versus up versus down? But I do- it means something- I think? Does it? It is semi-intuitive that it should if I were to need something, but how would I figure out which direction to go to for the best result? Down and left tend to have bad cultural meanings- but down tends to be what you do on the web to get more results? Am I supposed to automatically understand you can go up and right? If I searched in Arabic, which is read in the opposite direction as English- would this make a difference? Would you want to do a serious search, like an illness, on it?And the flash also annoys me- I can’t go back through my search and refine it, which is made worse by the fact that I can’t save/look back at a search because flash is hard to save since it is a program run on the web. It is not the actual links.So not only do I not know what the linkage pattern means- I also don’t have a way of trying out the process over and over again through saving the pattern to figure out what could the links in their various locations mean.I find the concept intriguing- but I need a little more of the reveal of what is going on in the search to be happy. I have no clear mental map of what is going on, and I find that someone would waste the time and money to put together a search engine that could potentially confuse the user very disturbing. It means someone out there is jumping the Web 2.0 shark of “It looks cool, hence do it” without thinking about how humans are heuristically guided with different short term and long term memory processes that often relate back to our bodies, our culutre and other skills we learn. Otherwise it is like a piece of art- It displays the chaos that is the internet without the surface pieces that we use to organize it. Which actually- I don’t mind as such.

      2. fredwilson

        I love it too. Great find by egoboss/carl

  3. metalpig

    Interesting observation… same as my blogspot blog, it landed on page 1 spot #2 & #3 in google for a certain keyword, but in bing it’s nowhere to be found.

    1. fredwilson

      Ignore the people at your own risk

  4. Sidharth Dassani

    I think I came away with the same feeling. It was OK as a search engine but it provided me no real reason to switch from Google. For many searches Google still provides the best result.

  5. im2b_dl

    Fred, I’m telling you Bing is less about being the best typed search engine…and more about it’s silverlight hypervideo search. It’s about the livign room and the tv. It’s about “ad links” and products. Xbox and explorer… and that little piece of dormant technology in Windows that was placed their for linling the browser itself with the TV. …. no more Boxee. Said that to Avner 2 years ago.People are missing the point on Bing…and I am NOT a Microsoft fan. Why do you think they have re-upped theire production deals with NBC? or the Jack & Suzy Welch show. New tech VC’s don’t understand what they don’t know…and dis legacy media…and I am afrauid for many it’s going to be make this another internet bubble. This is why CONTENT is king with the audience, browser and internet provider …why do you think Jeff Zucker said Hulu is “going to become an ad agency”? Bing is about silverlight and explorer…and the tv.

    1. fredwilson

      Got it. That helps. Thanks

  6. mydigitalself

    Totally agree on image and video search, in particular the former is streets ahead of Google’s image search and that was a big and pleasant suprise for me.The way I summed up Bing was that the search isn’t rich enough. Google do a much better job of injecting News/Image/Video/Local results into basic search results. This doesn’t happen on a lot of Bing searches and I think they’ve actually buried some of their richness behind the left nav bar that’s sorely inconsistent by nature of it’s adaptiveness.I got a few examples of Bing injecting local search, but again it wasn’t executed very well. Take a look below with “pizza london” searches.Bing: http://bit.ly/sC1IZGoog: http://bit.ly/jBJ8DThe local results are more eye catching due to richness of visualisation. Interestingly when I first did this a few weeks ago, the Bing local results didn’t even have the address and contact details in them, so it looks like they are getting better.Overall the Bing search just “felt bland” to me. I think they are heading in the right direction. Although one day it would be nice to see a game-changer here and Bing is not that, it’s a very good me too.Note that I switched my default search engine to Bing for 2 weeks and eventually went back to Google for richness and familiarity.

  7. Prakash S

    I first switched to Firefox from IE because it had tabbed browsing, a killer feature when I started reading tons of blogs via rss. IE used to crash all the time when it went over a certain number of tabs.The reason I stuck to Firefox was due to it’s absolutely awesome plugin architecture, where anyone could develop a plugin that would be super useful for a few thousand people.I think Microsoft got the switching part right (Sip test? everyone giving it a try & writing about it), but I think they need a ton of work getting folks to stick to bing.

    1. fredwilson

      How about an open source plug in architecture? Someone left a comment on the prior bing post that the bing api is excellent. Hmmm

  8. Jim Kerr

    I did roughly 40 searches on the site that lets you blindly compare Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Yahoo came in a solid first, Google was second, and Bing was a distant third. I switched to Yahoo from Google since then and probably won’t go back. I’d be interested what your results would be.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not headed to yahoo anytime soon

      1. paramendra

        Me neither. I doubt I have ever used Yahoo search in a decade except to maybe just drop by to see.

  9. maximo

    bad habits are hard to break I suppose. Too bad you’re giving up so soon. Your personal experience shows Google’s brand remains strong s don’t bet against it. But its technology is far from innovative.

  10. b4rk13

    FYI, the Bing site for the UK is different to the US one and doesn’t offer as many search options e.g., Travel search is not present on the UK site.

  11. WayneMulligan

    Fred, I think you’d like this post from Mark Hurst on Google vs. Bing. I think it makes a valuable point for entrepreneurs in general, especially those looking to enter a competitive market with an entrenched competitor. Essentially, Mark’s thesis is that the user experience has to be dramatically redefined in order to gain market share in such a situation:http://goodexperience.com/2

    1. fredwilson

      He’s right

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely – the ‘wow’ factor is priceless, and so hard to achieve.The whole UI/UX experience is (generally) so badly addressed, still.That’s why I really like what the (eg) Spezify folks are trying to do.

        1. fredwilson

          Wow. Spezify is cool. I just posted a spezify to fredwilson.vc

  12. subbu

    clickable is down.

    1. fredwilson

      Its back up now. Sorry abt that

  13. William Mougayar

    How about 1) better UI on Bing, 2) Bing’s API. 1) I attended last week’s SemTech panel on Search in San Jose (with Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, True Knowledge, Hakia) and Peter Norvig (chief researcher on search @ Google) unexpectedly praised Bing’s interface. This blogger paraphrased the interchange well, underpinning the fact that search ranking isn’t the only thing.”Norvigā€™s first answer to the Bing question was to say that he likes the idea of innovation in the user interface. He thinks that there is a lot of room for more such innovation, and for a lot of different reasons. Historically, there has been too much emphasis on getting the ranking right, at the expense of all else. Of course (he added) a quality ranking is something that you absolutely must have. But for too long it has been the only thing that has been worked on, and that needs to change. He thinks Bing has made some good steps, and that there are a lot more that can be made as well.”http://irgupf.com/2009/06/1… 2) Bing has a developer API http://www.bing.com/develop… , and they are encouraging innovation around the API such as this very creative competition as part of the Gnomedex conference, where they are offering $10K to the winner App that uses the Bing API to benefit saving the environment. http://willcodeforgreen.gno

    1. fredwilson

      This is all very encouraging. Once more, the user wins

  14. Mihai Badoiu

    Google does better on the long tail queries than Bing, something Bing will have a hard time to catch up to.Bing has a more modern UI. If Google decides to match, this would be much much easier than MS’s job.Imagesearch on Google has always sucked, in both quality and index size.

  15. schram

    “Bing doesn’t know about social media.”That doesn’t seem like a fair comment. After all, you said they did put a link to her on their second page of results. I’m sure you rightly value her highly, but I don’t see any particular reason why she rates a higher position — other than the usual social media echo chamber where all the members think that the larger world cares about what social media devotees are talking about.So based on that, if I’m recommending a search engine to people in the social media biz, sounds like Google would be giving more of “my kind” of results. As for the 98% of the world that *doesn’t* care about that, your wife being first on Google sounds more like a bug than a feature.

    1. fredwilson

      Its not about my wife. Try any persons name and see if their blog comes up first on bing

  16. ShanaC

    Great layout. Amazing layout actually. May the Lords of the Web be Blessed for moving away from the bubble font land and for understanding columns better. The photo backgrounds are anchoring. The font choices are beautiful, And It looks like a Fibonacci setup for the sidecolumn, header bar, and main section, which feels really pleasing to the eye. Especially putting a column to the left with all of your iterations. Looks really strong, like the search is being held up. Even the idea of offsetting the searchbar on the main page- and sticking a fun fact with the photo. Praise that designer. Someone steal that lead guy for whaever you got. (I never thought I would say that about Microsoft).If this is seriously the direction they want to go in, they are going to do well over the next few years as they go through thier portofilio and straighten it out over a few design iterations. I can see how Bing isn’t done. But it is well on its way.I’m unsure how I feel about seeing all the interations of my searchs. Esepcially in a countrey with the Great the Great Firewall. On the other hand- it is extremely useful when it is clear that a search needs to be refined in some way to make a result appear.Speaking on that topic, I’m finding that I gave up Bing as a primary search engine after two days. Even with old fashioned booleans, without a spellcheck and without Bing being able to search in the deeper recesses of the web (I was searchign for friend’s blogs as an ex Jblogger, as they say.) , bing was causing more pain than help.Non-standard non-english would turn up no results. It can take up to four searches to find Vos Iz Neias* starting from Vois Eis Neis(which I don’t read- but I see refered to, and is optimal for me, because I can’t spell it easily) in Bing!. in Google, one. Sometimes, I prefer my SEO optimized world, even if it is occuring by accident. In obscurer parts of the web- it will cause better results. (Alternatively- it will cause better results when you use english glyphs inside foriegn languages).One more thought, as an internet personality aquaitnace of mine from college said (paraphrased) “Now you can Bing it!” (as opposed to Google it.)*Vos Iz Naeas is a Blog/Newspaper for Ultraorthodox Jews in english. Due to communal restrictions on what is appropriate to publish, there was a shortage of actually communally relevant news. A bunch of people took to the web. I think it mean What is New. For the niche crowd it feeds, it is extremely popular. I chose it mainly for the name- which is really hard to spell.

  17. Doug Kersten

    The thing about Bing is that it is much better then Microsoft’s old stuff and better then anything else out there except Google. To me it is already very successful because it has gotten me to change my habits just a little, as it has you. It has it’s foot in the door. It’s going to be really interesting to see how Microsoft opens the door further and I love the fact that Google has some competition now (at least it feels that way to me).Doug K.

    1. fredwilson

      Indeed. I mean what were they thinking with search.live.com?

  18. itamar

    Definitely a good point about image search. Regarding bing, I took the approach of not over-thinking it, try it out, and see if I naturally gravitated towards it. I found myself going back to bing mainly for the image search, but for general search, the built in Google in Firefox was good enough.I was somewhat surprised with myself that I took the time to manually type out http://www.bing.com in the URL bar, so it has definitely stuck in my subconscious to a degree.

    1. paramendra

      They get an A for marketing effort. Search is a different territory.

  19. Morgan Warstler

    You’re right. I also miss IMDB entries on Bing.Over the past two weeks, I’ve come to wish MSFT would crowdsource Bing’s “algorithm” development – like a less geeky,but more financially rewarding approach to NetFlix’s prediction contest.MSFT has the money and could use the PR the humility would grant them, by letting backend guys make testable improvements and letting front end guys create multiple interfaces for user’s to use.If you had a search interface that 10K users loved, and you kept 10% of search revenue from it…. it’d be meaningful.

    1. ShanaC

      Welcome to the world of the mantra “there is no such thing as an average user, because there is no such thing as an average person”I could see how a colorblind person could potentially hate the Bing! layout.

  20. John Stack

    Hi! Love your posts!I tried Bing Travel and their 7 Day Fair Predictor. Its accurate. I plan on using it again! Here’s my report:http://johnstack.spaces.liv

    1. fredwilson

      They did a nice job integrating farecast into bing

  21. Aaron

    “I can see how Bing isn’t done. But it is well on its way.” – ShanaWe are always working to make things better and better :)My name is Aaron from the Bing Outreach team and I just wanted to thank you all for the comments and feedback here. A lot of good stuff! We’re making sure that we’re listening. If you have any more constructive feedback for us, feel free to add more comments, and I can pass it along.Oh, and nice post Fred :)AaronBing Outreach Teamhttp://www.discoverbing.com

    1. fredwilson

      How about a first result for my gal – the gotham gal? šŸ˜‰

      1. ShanaC

        šŸ™‚ THis comment really does make me smile.

      2. Aaron Klein

        I don’t know, Fred. If they fix Gotham Gal’s link, then having an outreach team member comment on your blog might prove that Bing DOES get social media. šŸ˜‰

        1. fredwilson

          Indeed

          1. paramendra

            šŸ™‚

    2. ShanaC

      Iterative design is the way to go. I once took a look at the figurative drawings of De Kooning for a class- his early works looked nothing like the abstractions that came later. His early drawings are very realistic- his later works are the bold abstractions he is famous for. It took him time to become that way.Be fearless, bold, and unafraid of misteps that you can learn from. To even come from a starting point that would lead to questions about how do we use the internet is a good step. To create a design that echos the human body and echos the locations and interests of users: a shocking surprise. You set your bar- Jump over it. You will get users to switch for tasks if you can not only jump over the bar- but raise it higher than what any of us can think of, and get the word out.This is a forum that will only provide tweaks from our comfort zone of what we think search engines should look like. Tweaks are good. Rising above them- better.You are well on your way- even just by breaking the design mold. Show us what you got underneath the hood.Good Luck

      1. Mark Essel

        Awesome thoughts Shana, I’m with you 100% on iterative design. My blogging is my bet on it’s efficacy. Psyched that Microsoft has folks like Aaron that get social media. Time to amend my list of tech companies that are social media trend setters

    3. fredwilson

      The fact that someone from Bing commented here is fantastic! I will use bing more because of it

    4. paramendra

      You guys/gals cracked at it from the presentation angle. Good idea. Otherwise the search results are hohum.

  22. AAfter Search

    If you are in a ‘look up’ mode, one search engine can suffice. However, if you are in a ‘research mode’ like looking for information about diseases or products, it is always a good idea to use multiple search engines starting with AAfter Search [ well I am biased šŸ™‚ ]

  23. alainaugsburger

    I am accessing Bing from Malaysia and did not realize that the local version was so limited (no video, shopping, map, etc..) as compared to the US version. After switching to the US version, i tried the video search and,i have to say, i am impressed.I searched anime (my kids love them), could select video length, screen size, resolution, etc.. and the result plays in small thumbnails. Very nice.I also searched “Iran protests”, and Bing brings easy to play thumbnails from Reuters, BBC, FOX, etc… making it very easy to get different views on a same subject. Google on the same search mainly comes out with results from Youtube and other videos websites. CNN, NY Time and CBS videos will only show on page 2.

  24. Michael B. Aronson

    I hate that Bing does not correct misspellings! If I knew exactly how to type in the name I might just go to the web site in the first place. Hopefully they are building up this database. To see what I mean search for “mentrtech ventures” on both Bing and Google. Google finds our site.I like the video search.Fred can I get an intro to Clickable? We have a couple of companies in our portfolio that I think should be using them.Michael

    1. maxkalehoff

      Hi Michael. I’m with Clickable and I’d be happy to help you out. Please email me at mkalehoff at clickable dot com

  25. Name

    I work in ecommerce. I ignored the launch of Bing until it made its presence known in my search engine stats. Pretty early, but they certainly have our attention.http://www.bing.com/shoppin

  26. howard

    looking for images on flickrcheck out the best flickr search toolhttp://www.compfight.com/we use it all the time

    1. fredwilson

      Seth Godin sent that to me too. He loves it. Its really slick. I love the CC search option

  27. Aaron

    Shanna – Wow. I agree with Mark… awesome thoughts.aaronklein – really great first name :)Mark – thanks for your shout out on Twitter! I’m liking the fact that we get “social media”. I’d say we’re pretty good at it if I do say so myself.Fred – I passed along the info about the “Joanne Wilson” query for the feedback team to look into. I’ll get back to you when I hear more. No promises ;)Again, thanks for the shout outs that we “get social media” guys. Any thoughts on these?Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bingFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/bingYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/bingCheers!AaronBing Outreach Team

  28. paramendra

    I visited Bing for the first time today/yesterday.

  29. paramendra

    Fred, you got such interesting comments sections, I hereby accuse you of pushing your portfolio company Disqus! šŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      This blog is a testament to why disqus should be on many blogs. Disqus is like liquor. It stimulates the conversations

      1. paramendra

        I went to sleep really late, you can tell, the previous comment says three hours ago. And I am up already. Disqus can do that to you!On a more serious note, before Disqus there was no serious commenting for me. It felt like such a waste. By now Disqus comments do more for me than even Twitter in some ways. It is a great way to bump into like minded people.Someone said somewhere that they no longer leave comments if a blog does not have Disqus. On that note, I do want TechCrunch to get Disqus. I dig it that Mashable does. Just like there can’t be another Twitter, I have a feeling there can’t be another Disqus. Since the idea is that all your comments should also end up at this one place, all your comments at all sorts of blogs.Because of Disqus I value my comment posting almost as much as posts I put out on my blog these days. Exploring the blogosphere has taken a whole new meaning.And I got up this morning wanting to compose a reply to your last email to me. ;-)Ha!

        1. fredwilson

          We need more ppl like you!

          1. paramendra

            I am deeply honored you should say that. If true, find me a few round 1 angels. šŸ˜‰ And I will remember you for rounds 2 and 3.

  30. fredwilson

    i didn’t say google was more accurate in putting gotham gal as the first result. i observed that they value social media more than bing.

  31. paramendra

    I think the Joanne Wilson “test” on Google and Bing is a decent layperson indicator that Google is still the superior search machine. I knew that to be true instinctively. That is why today/yesterday was the first time I visited Bing. But they have done good work on (a) presentation and (b) marketing. I am glad they are trying. C for capitalism, c for competition.

  32. fredwilson

    Its good to know where bing is better. I’d like to give my search queries around a bit more. Comments like this help

  33. karen_e

    This will be interesting … b2b search … would like to hear more.

  34. William Mougayar

    That’s where the Powerset semantics engine is doing its job in the background. (Bing is using some Powerset functionality, inside). Compare: http://powerset.com/explore

  35. fredwilson

    I didn’t write that about social just based on joanne. I’ve experienced it all week and its the number one comment I’ve heard from others about bing too. Google has a much better way of surfacing bloggers and blog content

  36. afrolov

    For me, Google puts your wife’s blog to the fifth place. Could be ‘Google dance’, but more likely the engine is complicated enough to factor in other stuff, like geographical location, and your own browsing and clicking history. Google knows so much about us it’s not even funny.

  37. fredwilson

    Wow. That’s fascinating and enlightening. Thanks!

  38. paramendra

    There is something to the Google dance. When I took the number two spot for Donut Android, my traffic did not spike into the stratosphere.”….the engine is complicated enough to factor in other stuff, like geographical location, and your own browsing and clicking history….”

  39. inpaki

    Its good to know where bing is better. I’d like to give my search queries around a bit more. Comments like this helphttp://www.methoo.com