As you may have noticed, ‘Bing’ has now gone live in the UK for all your search needs. Microsoft has a lot riding on this new search engine, having abandoned its previous effort, Live Search, itself a rebranding of MSN Search.

Maybe this confusion has contributed to why Microsoft has always been far behind Google in terms of search traffic, and this massive shortfall has enabled them to completely rebrand and start afresh. Bing needed to have enough new and different features to break the habits of its users, and it was going to take something special to lure them away.

Should you switch?

Bing does have some very interesting features. Microsoft believe it provides better search results because it is able to define the category of your search query far more accurately than Google, and therefore display more relevant results. It also provides a list of related categories on the left hand side that might interest you. This is certainly a useful feature.

It is likely that this ability to categorise searches will give advertisers more confidence in the keywords they are bidding on. This should help Microsoft improve their market share of paid advertising associated with search keywords, which is what generated the majority of Google’s $ 22.12 Billion revenue last year.

What we think of Bing…

We have been testing Bing over the last week and we were rather impressed with the progress that’s been made. Some of the things we noticed about Bing:

Bing enables you to see a lot more before choosing where to click. If you hover to the right of the search listings you get a summary of the website, a particularly useful tool.

Image results seem to be good, and if you are searching for videos a little thumbnail appears that allows you to preview the video before clicking.

Bing is also integrating with more applications and sites such as CIAO, the equivalent of Google Product Search.

There are limitless possibilities in this area for Bing and I’m sure it won’t be too long before you see applications such as Outlook being integrated into the search engine.

Probably the most important qualities of a new engine are the less tangible and technical aspects such as how user friendly it is, how easy on the eye it is and how quickly it produces results; performing magnificently on all three aspects.

What does the future hold for Bing?

We have to remember that Bing is still being tested in the UK and a full launch is only expected in 6 months’ time. Although there is room for improvement, there is still time, and an ‘adequate’ $ 100 million dollar budget for it to close the gap on Google.

Despite many users saying it’s gravitating towards the Google look, can you really blame them? It may not be as long as you think until you’re saying to your friend ‘I’ll just Bing that for you’…

Michael Grindy writes for atom42, an online marketing agency in London. Atom42 employs a range of marketing fields to create an integrated online marketing strategy for each of its clients.