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Bing comes out of Beta! Why now and what can you expect?

Alex Christie

13 November 2009

Yesterday (November 12th) Microsoft announced that Bing had finally come out of Beta stage in the UK.

Bing

Bing

So what has prompted Microsoft to remove the Beta tag and effectively announce their satisfaction with Bing in the UK? The answer, it seems, lies in localised search:

“We promised to remove (the Beta tag) only once our experience would differ from the competition and outperform them in terms of UK relevancy. On November 12th, we reached this aggressive objective thanks to our London-based Search Technology Centre.”

It certainly does seem that Bing Localised Search performs at least as well as Google’s, so I will give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt on this one rather than spend precious time trying to find an anomaly.

At the end of the day, which search engine you or I choose will depend on the quality of results that are returned in response to our search queries.

So what have Microsoft done to encourage people to switch from their comfortable, reliable relationship with Google? What is it that is going to make people jump into bed with Bing?

Key features of Bing

For those unfamiliar with Bing, and lets be fair, that is probably over 80% of the UK population, below is a very brief overview of the key features of Bing.

Synopsis feature
Have you ever wondered what you will find when you click on one of the blue links? To help you decide which link to click Bing has introduced a new synopsis feature giving you a snap shot of the page when you hover over the link.

Search categories
The introduction of search categories to the left of the search results allows you to more effectively find what you are looking for by narrowing down your search.

Related searches
Yes, these are not new as Google also features these at the bottom of the page, but they are given more prominence in Bing, perhaps providing more benefits to the bigger brands.

Bing Search Results Features

Bing Search Results Features

Video results
Yes, again these have featured in Google for some time now, but the unique feature in Bing is that you can preview the video without leaving the SERP.

The verdict:

Whilst it has to be said that Bing is visually more appealing than Google and can boast better usability, time will tell whether Bing can deliver the results which the end user craves. A great website allows you to compare side by side the results from Bing and Google for a given search term, but the likelihood is that for a while yet the UK will continue the love affair with Google.

Decent gains in the US market in recent months have not been reflected here in the UK. The recent figures from Experian Hitwise show that Bing only has a 2.84% share of the UK search market, whereas the behemoth Google has a market share of 88.79%.

Latest figures from Experian Hitwise

Latest figures from Experian Hitwise

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