Microsoft Bing Offers Search Variety, Challenges Google

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Microsoft Bing Offers Search Variety, Challenges Google

With the June 1 launch of its new search engine, Bing, Microsoft is attempting to claim more market share in the competitive search-engine arena, where it sits in third place behind Google and Yahoo. According to a ComScore report, Microsoft held 8.2 percent of the U.S. core search engine market in April 2009, behind Google with 64.2 percent and Yahoo with 20.4 percent. In addition to traditional search, with its pages of hyperlinks, Bing also allows users to drill down into specific search categories, such as Videos, Shopping, News, Maps and Travel. With this step, Microsoft says it wants Bing to provide intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions, with an initial focus on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business. Or to put it another way, Microsoft is hoping that Bing presents such utility...

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In contrast to Google's stripped-down search page, Bing rotates through colorful background images on a daily basis. The left-hand side of the screen lists more granular search options ("Videos," "Shopping," "News," etc.).

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In addition to compiling news in a now-standard "blue hyperlinks" format, Bing's News page also includes video previews; drifting your cursor over the miniature video screens plays a brief clip. Microsoft has followed in the steps of Yahoo and Google with regard to incorporating dynamic video into search.

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Microsoft has loaded Bing's Shopping search with an additional enticement in the form of "cashback," which lets users receive, well, cash back on purchases. The cash itself is sent to an account that the user sets up.

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Bing Shopping allows users to see a variety of details about a product, and read descriptions, without having to click over to the store's site.

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Bing Travel allows users to search for flights, hotels and deals with an interface similar to what you find on travel sites such as Orbitz or Travelocity.

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Bing Map works in a manner similar to other Map sites; some interesting features include a "bird's-eye view" that shows a location from three-quarters perspective a few hundred feet off the ground.

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The start page for Bing Video presents, in addition to the search bar, granular options for viewing, such as music videos and TV shows.

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Bing Images allows users to narrow down their search for images by size, layout, color, style and other options.

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