The ink had hardly dried on my post yesterday about the imminent launch of Bing 2.0, and before news broke that Microsoft had indeed unveiled the new version of Bing.
Thanks to twitter, news of the Bing 2.0 launch surfaced last week, with Silverlight rumoured to be the major change under the hood. The tweet that really got my attention about Bing 2.0 was:
“BING 2.0 terrific !! watch out guys ! bing + silverlight in maps = amazing!! goodbye google,”
Keen to see how Microsoft has used Bing to showcase the power of Silverlight to a mass audience, I have ventured over to the new version…but it appears, the 1st iteration of the overhaul just involves a new “visual search” experience – no local yet!
So what is Bing visual search all about?
Visual search allows you to browse through search results via a new interface where listings are represented by images. The new interface is powered by Silverlight – Microsoft’s rich media framework.
At this stage, visual listings are restricted to “structured data sets from trusted partners”, so you wont be able to use Visual Search for all searches. The new concept does work well for shopping style searches, highlighted by the sample Visual Search queries that Microsoft used.
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Whilst the new visual search is an interesting enhancement to the Bing search experience, it’s hardly hardly ground breaking (except for the use of Silverlight). Here are some other search engines that have gone down the visual path before Bing.
There’s more on the way for Bing enhancements this year. According to Elisabeth Osmeloski from Search Engine Land,
“…we can confirm this is the first in a series of tweaks and other major features set to roll out through the end of the year.”
So the rumours about Local integration of Silverlight, could still be coming through. Whilst I really like the new Bing visual search interface, it’s not enough to get me using Bing full time. When the data sets expand, it could become my preferred option for product research.
I think the really exciting enhancements in Bing 2.0 are still yet to be unveiled, and it’ll be interesting to see what else comes out this year.
If you want to take Bing visual search for a test run, you’ll need to ensure you have the latest version of Silverlight installed on your computer. Go here to update silverlight.
If you’ve already taken it for a spin, let us know your thoughts.
- Would you prefer to see more searches in this visual format?
- Does it enhance your search experience?
- Does the speed of visual search diminish the value?
- Is having to install software to search a negative on the experience?