Windows & Interoperability: Microsoft Bing Search Engine Marks First Anniversary
Microsoft Bing Search Engine Marks First Anniversary
by Nicholas Kolakowski
When Microsoft launched Bing on June 1, 2009, its immediate differentiator from Google was the highly colorful search screen.
Bing also tried to differentiate itself from the start with homescreen tabs for very specific search categories, such as Videos, Shopping, News, Maps and Travel. Microsoft later revamped many of these tabs to present the user with more options.
Microsoft also introduced Bing Maps, which offers satellite overheads and a street-level view of local terrain.
By the end of 2009, Microsoft introduced features such as the Bing Bar, which runs along the top of a browser screen and allows one-click access to news, weather, stocks, video and other options.
Bing Maps Silverlight
Microsoft announced on Jan. 19 that it would take its Bing Maps Silverlight site out of beta mode, and include two new features: Destination Maps and Local Events.
The Local Events feature studs a Bing map with pins showing the latest local happenings.
The Destination Maps feature lets the user render a Bing map in a highly stylized way, including "European," "Sketchy," "American," and "Treasure Map."
Searching for Food
By February, Bing introduced another round of features, including the ability to type in the name of a particular food, such as "pasta," and receive a "Recipes" tab on the left side of the search-results screen.
Those recipes contain directions, ingredients and nutritional information such as calories, fats, sodium and carbohydrates.
Good and Good for You
Bing also provides nutritional information through "computational engine" Wolfram Alpha, which can rank various foods nutrient quotients to that of others. Here, we see that a standard serving of skirt steak ranks in the 94th percentile for vitamin B12 among 7,500 "common foods."
The Silverlight version of Bing Maps allows for more extensive animations, such as a "zoom down" to street level. It was part of the Silverlight-centric tweaks enacted to Bing in January.
Another Silverlight-enabled feature, Whats Nearby, allows the user to see nearby businesses and other points of interest around a selected location.
An Eye on Health
Microsoft also introduced the "enhanced Bing Health search experience," which returns data from multiple sources in response to health-related queries. By typing in "hospital," for example, you receive a variety of information about local medical facilities.
As part of Bings health-related search enhancements, typing in a term like "heart attack" will result in lists of related conditions, medications and medical centers that specialize in the disease.
Visual Search for Bing allows users to click and scroll through a variety of image galleries in order to find a particular one, without needing to type in a search term. It seems designed to compete against Googles own visual-search feature, Similar Images.
Another Bing feature lets users post a message about a particular productsuch as a digital camerato Facebook or Twitter.
Bings Event Search lets users scour events within a particular city or locality, subcategorized by civic activities, music and other options.