Microsoft’s new “decision” engine

Microsoft has launched “decision” engine Bing (currently in beta) as an agreeable new choice for Web searchers.  Claiming Bing was designed to help people find the right information that can help them in making decisions, Microsoft passed over the term “search engine” for “decision engine.” With an index of  five million pages (Google reports indexing over eight billion) and seemingly relevant results, searchers have given this much anticipated update to Microsoft LIVE Search a warm reception.

The decision engine lives up to Microsoft’s claims of searching more intelligently. For instance, hovering over their expand icon opens additional information in the sidebar without having to click thru. On the video side, hovering over the video offers a live preview. Search history is prominently presented, making it easy to go back to previous searches (instead of hitting back, back, back). Some LIVE features remain the same. Live Search Cashback is now Bing Cashback and Virtual Earth is now Bing Maps for Enterprise.

Since the vast majority of LIVE searches came via MSN, Microsoft is aiming to establish its latest search offering as a destination site. The question remains as whether or not Bing will be serious competition for highly trafficked Google and Yahoo.  Bing does include some advanced search features that differ from those found on other search engines, giving users more control over results.

Bing’s design and layout is simple, featuring a different background image with hotspots of content every day. Those with Microsoft Silverlight can go back to view old backgrounds. Microsoft is thinking in terms of social media, with a planned blog search feature (to be released by the end of the year) and social shopping features currently incorporated into the search experience.  Professional reviews, user reviews, and comparative pricing directly are highlighted within product search results. Users can join the Bing community here.  It is too soon to predict the future of Bing. But with this release, Microsoft has clearly shown improvements and innovations in search.