Sneak peak at Bing’s new search results UI

Lately, several people have been capturing glimpses at the new Bing search results UI, and I have to say it’s pretty good. It’s very sporadic as to how often this look is showing up, but I’m guessing the Bing team wants to see what reactions there are before they roll it out. As of now, I’m no longer able to get it.

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New search (above) v. old search (below)

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Some interesting things to note:

1) Left pane is gone – This really helps simplifies the page and makes it less busy looking, but it does take out the “Search History” and “Narrow By Date” filter. “Related Searches” is moved to the right pane.

2) Bing logo is slightly altered – Instead of the text in the logo being blue, it’s now black. It’s also slightly smaller in size. I personally like it. The blue logo always seemed kind of tacky in my opinion, and making it smaller serves to simplify the page and put the focus on the search, not the logo.

3) More search results? – Maybe it’s an odd thing to note, but the new Bing finds 223 million results, while old Bing finds only 222 million results. Of course, most people never go past the first 10 results, but it’s interesting to note.

4) Simplified header – Thin strip across the top, probably relating to the daily image. The various search verticals are reduced to just Web, Images, Videos, News, and More. Facebook login is more prominent with profile image shown, where as in the old Bing, it isn’t. Bing Rewards not shown.

5) Altered search box – The actual search button is no longer orange, but white. In fact, it’s now a boxed out logo either, but right into the search bar with an almost complete line separating it as its own box. They’ve completely done away with the “suggested search headers” that used to appear under the search box. Now you just go with the consistent ones on the top of the page. Much better, as I feel it’s less redundant.

Of course this is probably not anything final. But I like how it looks in comparison to the old one, and I’d even consider it to have the Metro elements. Search results seem to be the focus of the page, and the other background elements are more subdued and less in the way. What do you y’all think?

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Bing-o! We have a loser: Beirut

I was curious about Beirut, so I did a Bing search on that. At first glance, it seems like the usual geographic-type enhanced result we’d expect Bing to have.

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However, that link they highlight has NOTHING to do with the ‘official’ site of the Beirut government. It’s actually a link to a band website… http://beirutband.com/

On the other hand, surprisingly, Google gives the same link for the “Beirut” query.

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Yet another example of how web search still isn’t perfect. I checked the Wikipedia page for Beirut and apparently this is the actual website for the Beirut government, though it is currently ‘under construction’ : http://www.beirut.gov.lb/

Bing Games really could use some work

Well if y’all weren’t aware, Bing has a ‘Games’ section where you can play a bunch of free games when you’re not busy surfing the web for other freebies. I found this out through LiveSide when Bing Games launched in November 2010. 

I’ve poked around the site a good deal (when I should have been focused on my finals!) and this really sums it up: A waste of time! Well, to be fair, there are a lot of time-wasters on the web, but I was less satisfied in my time spent on Bing Games than most stuff. Why?

Let me break it down through a nice organized list in non-specific order:

1. Low-quality games – Ok, I’m not expecting fancy popular state-of-the-art titles and engaging gameplay, or super smooth-as-silk graphics, but the games available on Bing Games are mostly crud. Even compared to other low-quality Flash-based games and quick entertainment sites, Bing Games brings little to the table in competitiveness. You want to know what kind of games they mostly have?

  • Limited trial levels of most popular arcade/puzzle franchises that end too soon
  • Random-type games where they seem cobbled together in less than a day
  • Generic games that could already be found on other dedicated flash-gaming sites
  • Games that seemed ported from the 90s with the worst looking interfaces possible image

Well that sums up the vast majority if not all games. Hard to think of one ORIGINAL game from Bing Games that actually intrigues me.

2. Small library of games – 80 games as of December 27, 2010. That’s relatively tiny compared to other similar sites. There are several categories of games not available in Bing like shooting, webcam (like Kinect/Eyetoy), racing, physics-based, etc.

3. Video ad rolls – Practically my #1 dislike with that site. Indeed, the games are monetarily free and it would be fair for Microsoft and those publishers to be compensated. However, video ads through the web are practically the worst medium, because they waste up precious seconds of your life making you watch something you’ll probably never buy. It’s expected with free web TV or traditional TV, but not the web. At least with text/graphic ads, I probably do see them, but they do not get in the way.

4. Some games require you connect with Facebook – Wow, if I really wanted to play social games on Facebook, then I probably wouldn’t be playing this game through Bing now, would I? Someone should contact the Department of Redundancy Department pronto!

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5. Poorly designed site – The navigation is too basic, it’s all based on categories and clicking through pages, though I guess 80 games isn’t much to deal with though hopefully going by rating or by publisher or more will exist if the library ever does get much larger. Also many games take up a small space where sometimes details can’t be seen too well unless you zoom, while the unnecessary leaderboard and social friends’ gaming stats take up a ridiculous amount of space around it.

More features are definitely needed: Stuff like user-based ratings/reviews, stats with how many currently playing or total views or publisher info., and a Favorites list within the site would be super helpful, and more viewing options like in fullscreen, dim page around the game, or even an isolated pop-up window of just the game. A detailed full leaderboard section would be helpful too.

6. Forgotten about MSN Games? – I just stumbled upon the new MSN Games site today and they completely REDID the entire site and dropped a lot of things and is now in essence a primped up version of Bing Games with a design probably targeted to middle-aged women. Anyway, I initially was going to point out it seemed very redundant to be offering both sites to users, and how Bing games seemed like a poor imitation of the original MSN Games but that’s kinda lost now.

BTW, the original MSN Games site offered a LOT of arcade/puzzle type games, and even offered full PC downloads of them either by paying individually or going for a GameSpring subscription. Must really suck for the MSN Zone fans back in the day to see the state MSN Games is in now. Well at least it has a Favorites list unlike Bing Games. Tsk. Tsk.

I could go on and on, but you pretty much get the picture I hope. I like Microsoft expanding to other areas, but only if they are actually doing an adequate job and bringing something new but Bing Games really just doesn’t cut it.

For those interested in fun Flash-based gaming sites, I’d definitely recommend Newgrounds.com and OMGPOP.com from experience.