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Microsoft Bing review: First Look

Microsoft has launched its latest assault on the search market with Bing. Is it a worthy opponent for Google at last?

One of the key selling points, literally, is that Bing offers cashback on sales. In the US, this functionality is nicely integrated into the search, but that's not the case in the UK, which has to put up with the integrated Caio shopping engine, which simply isn't as good as Google's Shopping equivalent and looks far too messy.

Overall though, Microsoft has concentrated on making more information available within the search engine, to help you get to stuff more quickly. For example - type in flight info', and you get a box with airline and flight number, which lets you check from inside the browser but of course it only works inside the US.

Microsoft has added a feature that lets you preview the page the search link will take you to by hovering over a line with a dot in the middle that appears when you mouse over your links this is actually a really useful addition over Google.

The video search tool has also been turbocharged and will start to play video as soon as you mouse over them, which can be quite distracting if you've got your volume up. It also lets you organise results in categories such as length, screen size, resolution and source.

Image searches are also nicely handled, with organising categories such as size, layout, colour, style and people. Click on any one, and the others then appear down the left hand side so if you're not happy with the one you want, you can go straight to a better one, without having to hit the back button. It also has an infinite scrolling' feature, in that more and more images are loaded as you search, rather than presenting them in pages.

Just as Google has built-in maps, Bing has its own mapping tool, and it seems that Microsoft has bought Multimap for the UK version. To be honest, we found that this was a little busy on the eye compared to the easy simplicity of the Google Maps, particularly with the advertising in your face, but the isometric Bird's Eye' view is still a one-up over Google.

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