How Did It Start
I'm writing on behalf of Microsoft to invite you to a discussion about Bing, the new search engine that recently launched in beta in the UK.
Colin Mercer, a member of Microsoft Life Without Walls initiative group, is a truly nice guy. Spontaneous, friendly, exactly that kind of guy that could let a group of foreigners feel comfortable since first meet up minutes. Being glad to have been invited without asking, and without being a Microsoft fun as well, of course I was there: to understand what this initiative was about and why they called me, raising my doubts from this high geek technical blog.
Bing Round Table, The Good Part
To be honest, I am not going to be that nice about this event, but I have to admit that seeing Microsoft trying to be closer than before with people that make Web live, any topic blogger in this case, was a nice surprise. The organization, the choose place, and the catering was excellent, even if there were only about 10 guests and there was no time to eat and drink. It is a good start point from a company famous to be closed for its selling purpose only. Good Stuff, please keep doing it, it can only brings benefits from different points of view.
Special Moronic Guests, That Is What We Are
The presentation started with a lovely woman and a sort of jingle: "Bing"! OK, that was to make us comfortable, that was to have a quick laugh, that was to break the ice, that was ... only the begin!
The entire presentation showed us stats, those stats were retrieved from God Knows which tool bar present only in Internet Explorer, and those stats, even if from IE world, put Microsoft search engines in third position, I can't imagine what could come from Mozilla or Google, if they present stats based on their own products ... I guess Bing would not even exists ...
Since those stats were not that pro-bing, they stopped into a slide with classical promises a la "it's simple, it's friendly, it's new, it's brand, it's something you should use, it makes your life better" ... no comment.
Fortunately, some guy started instantly to ask what was new, what was interesting, what was the missing piece that other well known search engines do not have ... and every question had behind a though like: why are we here and what are you showing us? We are not dummies and we know what we want, what other offer, and what we are looking for.
Were we interested about TV ad like presentation? NO
Were we interested about promises other search engines maintain since ages? NO
Were we interested about U.S.A. verion, being in London, where Bing is still beta and smells like Live from miles without bringing a single new feature and positioning bing itself in the second place when you search for bing in the uk version? NO
So what were they showing us? Did they think we do not know what is a search engine? Probably
At least that what I think,everybody was looking for that genius thing that nobody else have ... it did not happen! Apparently, the most innovative thing is the live video preview for video results ... OK, I want to be honest, I think everybody over 18 has seen some xxx search engine and everybody knows that a quick preview in a video link is not a Bing idea ... isn't it?
The second most important innovation is a vertical focused lateral bar, something that simply remove spaces fr mobile devices, something useful because with that kind of layout and images behind white links people could even not notice top links so here they are with an innovative lateral menu ... is this wow?
Bing UK, I Want Developers Name!
Design wise, as I said in some other post I am partially color blind. I perfectly recognize red and green, but slight gradients make my life truly difficult.
Google, 25Kb, you write, you press enter, that's it, that's why they are the number one search engine ... no confusion, not a single waist of time or bandwidth, optimized for mobile devices and even if Microsoft has more than one HTC device, they do not care ... try to surf Bing with iPhone or Android ... are we still in 2000 or in the netbook/small screen devices era? A splash in the past, and still nothing new!
Bing U.S.A. You Click Rather Than Scroll!
Again, I did not get this "feature", the vertical oriented menu on the left suppose to make everything simple because in Gogle you have to scroll ... What?
The scrolling operation with a mouse is extremely natural and it can be performed everywhere in the page while it is still natural with mobile devices where with a finger or a dedicated button you just ... scroll! The search, point, and click is a boring, slow, tedious, operation, even more difficult with mobile devices and whatever "finger-pad" panel we all have in our mobile devices. In few words, in UK Bing presentation they showed us how simple is to find Washington map ... you search for Washington, the engine is so clever to understand that you are looking for a city ( again, moronic stuff, we all know that this is the abc for a top ten search engine ) and if you click Map in the left side menu, you will find the map. In Google, you have to scroll ( weird, I always found maps in the top of the page ) to find information, so they organized everything, with a response page which average is again about 70Kb VS 30 to 35 for Google, where in the latter one you can find everything you need in one page, quick, simple, that is simple!
I do not want to comment the fact they proposed U.S.A. related searches, and non UK images in the home page for the UK Bing version ...
There Will Be Time For Technical Question?
Disappointed, partially humiliated, and still load of doubts about how the presentation supposed to be and the reason they called us.
Is Everything That Bad?One thing I truly appreciated, which does not come from this meeting, is the Bing API, in my opinion well done and flexible enough to let us create interesting applications or web gadgets. If you'll stay tuned, I am planning to create a bookmarkable script that will make searches nice, simple, and friendly, exactly how Bing should, in Microsoft mind, be.
Finally, this post is only my impression, my opinions, and nothing else. I may have misunderstood a lot of words/questions, specially after a couple of fresh beers, but I still wonder why I was there ... and if I would like to be there again. Let's see how things will be.