Bada Boom Bada Bing!

…And just like that Microsoft is back in the search game!  Maybe.  Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine due out Wednesday, launched on Saturday.  Does anything not “drop” early these days?!  While Google Killer it is not, Microsoft says it is not intended to be.  I do think it offers a solid user experience though.  This should make current users happy, but the question is then how many new users will be happy about Bing?  Microsoft is planning to put a significant amount of money behind marketing Bing.  The goal will not be to compete with Google, but to offer something unique to differentiate themselves in the search market.  (a good strategy, and really all anyone can do at this point).

With that said, it will be interesting to see how they market Bing to consumers. They are calling it a decision engine instead of a search engine, and Ballmer thinks that ditching the MSN Live and Live Search brand names in favor of Bing will create a better connection with consumers.  Time will always tell. If anything it should help to bolster a stale product, and give it a fresher look and some much needed media hype.  With the new breed (facebook, twitter, etc.) stealing the spotlight, some media hype couldn’t hurt.  At the very least, Bing should help to cement MSN firmly in its current third place ranking in the Big Three.

Bing search results page.

Bing search results page.

I’ve tried a bunch of searches already this morning and I like how it builds a search history for you in the left side nav under the related searches area (which is also a nice feature to help you refine your search).  Also, as you scroll over the search results, an (ajax-like) window allows you to preview the page before you click on the result link.

Currently the home page works to merchandise a particular search theme, or discovery topic.  One thing I didn’t see while searching on Bing were the Sponsored Links.  Which makes me wonder how Microsoft plans to monetize the search traffic on Bing.  I’m sure this is all part of the courtship and the ads will return soon enough.  Launching and marketing a new product like Bing seems ambitious given the fact that Microsoft will need to get behind Microsoft 7 any day now.  But the subject of how much money Microsoft has for marketing is another topic altogether.