Three years ago, I switched from Google search to Bing. There, I said it. No longer do I Google something; I Bing it. And I haven't looked back since.
The move away from Google wasn't easy. Sometime in the late 1990s, I was invited to test out Google's search engine. I moved from poring though filing cabinets to typing queries in a search box. If it was out there on the Web, Google promised, Google would find it. (If you want to switch browsers as a protest against Google's diversity memo controversy, that's your choice. I didn't switch three years ago for that reason, though.)
Over the years, Google became smarter and more responsive. Google Instant auto-suggested search results before I finished typing them. "Google it" became part of my vernacular.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Bing search engine was getting no respect. Bing it? Please.
But Bing doggedly continued to improve. It added social connections and "cards" identifying key topics and related searches. It improved speed and reliability. Then one day, when I wanted to dig up older stories I had written using Google's search engine, I found I had better luck finding them using Bing.
So I switched.
By the end of this story, I'll tell you how to switch your browser's search engine from Google to Bing in just a few seconds. But before that, here are some of my favorite (and yes, even bizarre) reasons to switch to Bing.
Number one? Because Microsoft will pay you.
1. Search for cash with Microsoft Rewards
I'm cheap. I'll generally pass up a $12 artisanal beef slider at the food trucks near my office in favor of a less expensive salad that could stuff a throw pillow. I often wear the same pants two days in a row to save on my water bill. I use coupons.
So if Microsoft wants to pay me about $5 a month to do what I normally do? Sign me up.
The concept behind Microsoft Rewards (formerly Bing Rewards) is simple: As you search, Microsoft gives you credits. If you have a Microsoft account (you do have a free Microsoft account, right?) you earn 1 credit per two Bing searches on a desktop PC (up to 15 credits per day), or 10 credits per day for searching Bing via a mobile app. (don't worry if these numbers don't quite match up to what you see, as Microsoft tends to vary the values every so often.) Bing searches are automatically triggered via Cortana on a Windows Phone, or the Bing Search app for Android or iOS.
The best part: These credits can be redeemed for things you'll actually use.
For roughly 475 credits -- again, the value varies -- Microsoft will give you $5 to spend at Amazon, or Fandango, Sephora, Starbucks, or other merchants. You can also redeem your rewards for a nice 5% coupon at the Microsoft Store, discounts on Windows and Windows Phone apps, or even a free month of Xbox Live Gold. Use Bing frequently enough, and you can climb your way up to Silver or Gold status, which confers a 10-percent "discount" on credit redemptions.
And this is all for simply using Bing during the course of your day.
2. Search quality: as good or better than Google's
I wouldn't even mention Bing Rewards if Bing itself wasted your time. But it doesn't. My personal belief is that Bing delivers slightly more useful information than Google in general search. (To be fair, I'll emphasize general: sometimes I'll try a search in Google if I can't find what I'm looking for in Bing. As of today (August 2017) I'd say Bing's ability to find an old news story of mine is slightly worse than it used to be.
And don't worry: Using Bing still means that you can use other Google services, like Gmail, as often as you'd like.
If I search for a term like "Notre Dame football," Bing makes better use of that vast, white space on the right side, displaying contextual information about the school, its history, news, and more. (Both engines show me the recent scores, but Google's card displays a more complete upcoming schedule.)
Bing's lead widens when you search for celebrities, as it includes videos as well as images and biographical information. And though Microsoft could do a better job of highlighting this information, Bing provides one-click links to a celeb's social media pages for what they're thinking about, right now.
There are exceptions, of course But, in general, Bing performs as well as Google on most of my common, day-to-day searches.
3. Bing gets the picture
That goes for image searches, too. Bing was first to implement the "infinite scroll" in Bing Images, where users could simply scroll and scroll and never reach the "end" of their search results. Today, Bing's image search adds an extra layer of search filters that Google users must drill down to find, including options to show only pictures with faces, for example, or display images in a particular layout. And if you need to find a licensed photo to illustrate a newsletter, Bing makes that information more easily accessible than Google does.
About the only reason to use Google's image search if you're hunting down animated GIF images, as this is an option Bing has yet to offer.
Keep reading to see how Bing gives you more video search results than Google.