Would you like me to Bing that for you?

Of course, I am referring to Microsoft’s newly branded and upgraded search engine: “Bing“. Upgraded, since it is the next iteration of their previous Live Search engine. Newly branded is self-explanatory – when you go to Live Search today, you are redirected to Bing.
So what’s new and why is it important? Microsoft is attempting to simplify the process of actually getting the results a user intends by adding a level of organization to the results. Microsoft itself is touting the new tool as a “decision engine” rather than a “search engine”. Fundamentally, Bing brings together logical groupings of results into headings which seek to summarize key clusters of information around a specific topic (or frequently occuring “keyword”). In this way, if a user has an idea of what they are looking for, but doesn’t know how to structure the appropriate keyword search, by entering a high level keyword, logical clusters of information become available which then facilitate drilling into a desired result. As an example, let’s plan a business trip to Chicago. A knowledgeable and skilled search engine user may type the keywords “Chicago” “Business Hotel” and “Downtown” into Google and get a well organized and summarized results page. Entering “Chicago” by itself, results in a more diverse set of possible links, with a well targetted, but sponsored link list on the right side. Entering “Chicago” into Bing, results in a summary of next level keywords well organized directly below the request. In this way, the user is effectively being prompted to fill in the next most common possible keywords through point and click, rather than by thinking about it up front. Is this better?
One can say, anything that facilitates moving a user up a learning curve in how best to use a tool is an improvement. The end result for a skilled user will not be different – the end result for a novice user may be a more efficient path to getting to the actual desired result.

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