Microsoft's new search engine has created some buzz since its introduction a few days earlier. The search engine is now live for everyone to test. It has to be noted that Microsoft seems to have it optimized for English speaking users from the United States and the United Kingdom who get more functionality than someone from Germany or France.
Users from the United States get on-page previews of the contents of each site by hovering the mouse cursor over a search result while users from unsupported countries do not get these previews. The previews can contain up to five links to other content of the site which is an interesting feature as search engines usually limit the exposure to one or two links to a site on each page. Many aspects of Bing look like Google Search. There are sponsored advertisements on top of the search results pages and on the left. Bing will also add related content like images where appropriate to the results.
Bing categorizes search results where appropriate. A search for New York will start with all results on the top and display categories like maps, weather, travel or attractions below each with a handful of search results. This is actually an interesting concept as it might aid inexperienced users in their search. Experienced users on the other hand will perform targeted searches to find the information they are looking for.
Bing will display the categories, related searches and the search history on the left. The image search of Bing displays image results on an infinite scrolling page with options to filter images by size, layout, color, style or people. A virtual map can be displayed which is really interesting for location based searches. It will for instance link pictures to locations on the map.
Bing Video search makes it possible to play videos directly on the results page. This can be done by hovering the mouse over a video or by clicking on the play button that appears when hovering over the video. Videos can also be filtered by length, resolution, screen size or source.
Bing offers some comfort function and elements that users will not find using Google Search. It seems to be targeting English speaking users only at this point as they can access features that users from non-English speaking countries cannot (unless they change their country to USA or UK). Everything on the other hand comes down to the quality of the search results. Bing seems to have improved over Windows Live, especially for popular search terms.