Before you read this, go visit Bing then come back. If you are reading this after Thursday, July 3rd, click on the little ‘left arrow’ in the lower right corner of the Bing homepage until you get to the panda to see what I’m talking about.

So as I mentioned in class, while I have nothing against anyone having a favorite company, to direct undue hate or vitriol against their competitor is unnecessary. I like all companies equally for what they contribute, and I’ll castigate any company if I feel they’ve gone the wrong direction. That being said, one of the services that seems to get a lot of ridicule is Microsoft’s Bing. If you’re unfamiliar, Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, a competitor to Google. No one bats an eye if they they hear the phrase “Google it,” there’s even a webpage that will do it automatically, but if someone says “Bing it” they risk getting beaten up.

I personally use both. Bing – in my opinion anyway – is better in some aspects such as  image, travel and technical searches, while Google is better for pop-culture, academic and news searches. In the interest of full disclosure, when I took the Bing-it-on challenge, Google won hands down. It was a rousing defeat of Bing.

These things happen.

These things happen.

Even so, what I like most about Bing is their homepage. Google has always prided itself on its superlative user interface, which has since the beginning consisted of not much more than a search bar – or has it? When it was released, it competed with disasters like Alta Vista (which now looks a lot like Bing, surprisingly enough), Dogpile, and Yahoo, which made it a breath of fresh air.

Bing is similar, however it includes a usually stunning image as its background, with hotspots that provide additional information about the picture. Back in 2011, though, they started occasionally animating their backgrounds using the HTML 5 specification, and some of those animations have been spectacular. The collapsible, filmstrip-like news stories along the bottom are a nice touch as well, although they are sometimes entertainment-heavy in their stories.

Screenshot (96)

In this recent image from the Bing homepage, you can navigate around the mountains. it’s still available if you click on the little ‘left-arrow’ button in the lower right of the page a couple of times.

I mention this because for all the hate and ridicule it gets, it’s not a bad search engine, and I have had just as much difficulty with Google providing me relevant results as I’ve had with Bing. One isn’t better than the other, they are just different, and on Tuesday we’ll find out why. You want to be careful not to dismiss something simply because it isn’t Google, or isn’t Microsoft, or isn’t Apple, or because it is.In the future I’ll be talking about alternative web browsers you can use, alternative operating systems you can use, even alternative search engines you can use. In the meantime, animated pandas!