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FightingImage: Jennifer Renee /

Like most people I’ve been using Google as my default search engine for the majority of my web life.  Previously, (I’m pretty sure) I was using Netscape as my browser and stuck with whatever it loaded as it’s search engine.  Search engine contenders just haven’t cut the mustard in terms of usability or returning useful / good results against my Google experience.  Bing has had a lot of hype recently, a good proportion of which can be attributed to the Microsoft media engine.  PR aside I’ve noted a few people on technology pod/vodcasts I follow starting to move across to Bing.  Most notably, Alex Albrecht undertook a full changeover for a week to give it a fair trial.  I allowed myself to be influenced and also conducted a simple experiment, 7 days of Bing versus Google – the results of which make up this blog article!

I use Firefox as my default browser.  Internet Explorer bugs me, pure and simple.  I’ve tried Safari and Google Chrome but neither of their interfaces stack up in the same way Firefox does.  Sticking with Firefox, I added Bing to my search list and then set it as my default on all of my numerous devices.  I use several tabs all day every day so to accommodate comparisons I set one tab to have the very handy web-site Bing vs Google always open.

As I went about my general day, both at work and at home I made use of Bing in the same manner I would normally use Google i.e. typing in the search box towards the top right hand corner of my Firefox window.  By day I work as an SCCM / SMS Administrator.  I won’t go into the specifics of my role, but lets just say I spend a large portion of the day researching and investigating things using the Internet as a key tool.  On my own time I’m a gamer (World of Warcraft specifically), a blogger (really?), social networking enthusiast and technology obsessed geek.  I’m always searching out information and don’t think I’m too bad at finding the results I want with relative ease.  There are times where people ask me to look things up for them because they don’t have the same flair.  (On such occasions I have been known to be cheeky in my response and use the rather hand site “Let Me Google That For You” when sending them their desired search results).

Over the first couple of days I found Bing’s interface to be bloated and uneasy on the eye.  Having been used to the pure simplicity of Google’s homepage, the increase of information took a little getting used to.  Once I’d spent some time doing so I felt myself using some of the facilities Bing offered more and more regularly.  For example, when searching for images, the ability to filter images of a certain size on the fly was a nice touch.  On the flip side, the level of information on screen when doing standard web-site searches meant I saw far less results on screen with Bing than what Google displayed therefore rendering the time spent making searches higher.

From a work point of view, using Bing was a disaster.  When looking for useful resources or spending time troubleshooting technical issues using error messages and codes was cumbersome.  Whilst lots of results were returned by Bing, their relevance was mostly inappropriate.  I often found myself having to browse through several pages of results to find answers and in many cases, not finding an answer at all.  Conversely, when I turned to Google, I found what I was looking for very quickly and usually within the first 1-2 pages of results.

From a personal point of view my experiences were mixed.  On some occasions Bing returned some very interesting and alternative results compared to what I might have seen on Google.  On some of these occasions I was led to sites I hadn’t previously been aware of and therefore expanded my bookmarks.  I found the Bing image search very powerful when looking for blog header images (like the one at the top of this article).  The whole interface is very polished with lots of added features, for example extra information displayed when you hover over links and images.  Despite this, every time I started typing search criteria into the Bing search box, I resented doing so and longed to see Google instead.

Looking back on when I was conducting my testing, I do wonder if the reason why I found Google better for useful and appropriate results might be down to my having been used to writing search criteria for Google over a long period of time.  This said, this doesn’t count when you consider my experiences when searching using specific error messages or information as my criteria where Bing failed miserably.  Will I be making the switch full time?  No chance – if Google lets me down then I will flip over to Bing for a second chance, but I’m far from changing my default browser from Google any time soon.

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