Microsoft Bing

We tested a preview release of Microsoft's new search/decision engine, previously called Kumo

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Microsoft Bing

Pros

  • Explorer Pane can be extremely useful, updated layout and look of video search, Farecast

Cons

  • We didn't like the Quick Preview feature

Bottom Line

Will the masses start binging instead of googling? If Microsoft continues to make progress with its ongoing tweaks and improvements to Bing — and steamrolls the existing landscape with its promised massive advertising campaign — it stands a chance of converting more than an impressionable few.

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At last, Bing has arrived. We tested a preview release of Microsoft's new search/decision engine, previously called Kumo, to see how well it compares. Here's a breakdown of its new features and how well they perform.

Bing: New Explorer Pane

Bing's new look focuses on a lefthand navigation menu called the Explorer Pane. This extra column of content includes Quick Tabs that break searches down into Web Groups relevant to your search.

For example, a search on "Nikon D70" triggers the Explorer Pane to create Quick Tabs for shopping, accessories, and videos all based on what your intent might be.

Under Quick Tabs in the Explorer Pane are additional subcategories such as 'Related Searches' and 'Search History'; the latter, as its name implies, shows you recent searches. Microsoft asserts that 50 percent of all searches are repeats, and that providing a session history therefore offers a shortcut to results of redundant searches.

Our take: The Explorer Pane can be extremely useful, which may make the trade-off of cluttering up the search results page worthwhile. But in our initial tests, Quick Tabs often steered me to Microsoft services such as Bing Shopping, Bing Travel, MSN Autos, and Bing health information.

It may be that those Bing sites offer the best content, but we get suspicious of any search engine that habitually gives its own links precedence over others'.

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