I've been using Google since its early days, back when Yahoo was still a good place to search. Yet switching to Bing as my default search engine has been a real pleasure. Here's why.
Search is a natural outgrowth of massive storage. If you can't find it, it's as if you'd never stored it.
What about the search results? Short answer: no difference that I've noticed. Maybe the order is different, but I'm not about to do a side-by-side comparison.
Why? Because my criterion for results is simple: do I get results I can use or not?
I do dozens of searches a day, often on arcane storage, academic and public policy topics. Either the results tell me what I want to know or they don't.
Verdict: I can't tell the difference between Bing and Google results.
10 years ago Google was an obvious improvement over Yahoo and Alta Vista, an earlier favorite. Today comprehensive search results are a commodity.
Then why switch? It's the little things.
Preferences that work. I like 30-50 results on a page, not 10. That stopped working on Google some months ago. Yes, I searched - on Google - for an answer and tried a couple of things, but no joy.
I also like shopping results in a grid, not a list. That also stopped working, so now I have to click on the grid option every time. I looked for a preference to change that but again, no joy.
Easier to use maps. Living in a small isolated town I go a lot of places I've never been before. Google Maps is good, but Bing maps drop into a close-up of the address, rather than a distant view.
I still end up clicking out or in to get more info, but its fewer clicks with Bing. It would be better if there were a preference to set initial map scale though.
Getting directions is more obvious as well. You don't have to go to the map and then click "directions" - you can do enter your start address from the results page.
Oddly, Bing does seem to insist on a state in the address before it puts up a map - even if the results show it "knows" what state the address is in.
It's a little thing - and it works.
More functional design. The use of white space is, IMHO, makes Bing look and work better. Results are more easily scanned and options are clearer.
I find what I'm looking for faster. That's the idea, isn't it?
The Storage Bits take I wasn't looking to change search preferences, but then a resolutely non-techie friend said she'd switched. "Why?" I asked.
She said she found Bing easier. That always gets my attention. Isn't that what computers are for?
So I tried it. It's easy on Firefox and Safari to switch. And she was right.
This is what competition is all about. Google can get me back, but they've got a lot of work to do.
Comments welcome, of course. Google's UI design process is broken. Will new CEO Page fix it?
Update: I'm not alone. From Friday's WSJ, Comscore: Microsoft's Bing Gains Share
. . . Microsoft's Bing search engine climbed to 13.1% of the U.S. search market in January from 12% in December, while Google declined to 65.6% in January from 66.6% in December. . . .