Microsoft has redesigned Bing to look like Google? But maybe that's a good thing.
Eye on Microsoft
By Shane O'Neill, CIO
If you’re using the Bing search engine today, you’ll notice a new look. It’s simpler and cleaner, and looks like … well … Google – just without as much clutter.
Apparently Bing has abandoned its plan to differentiate from Google and go for pure minimalism, even if it looks like Google. But with that said, the Bing redesign does make Google’s search page look crowded by comparison.
The key changes to Bing are that the left sidebar — which was jam-packed with related search and search history links — is gone. Related Searches have been moved to beneath the ads in the right rail. Also, a new Thumbs Up icon accompanies any search result that friends have Liked and you can see which friend by hovering the mouse over the icon. This is a way to consolidate social search features rather than having headshots of friends underneath search results that occur in Google’s Search Plus Your World personalized searches.
The new Bing also cleans up the top area. The header used to have clunky tabs for Web, Images, Videos, Maps etc. below the search query field. Now the header presents a cleaner set of links, not tabs, located above the search field.
I’m a strong believer that a search page should just give you what you need, so I applaud Bing’s clutter-free look. Do we really need the main search page to have related searches, and search history and game scores and restaurant menus? How often do you really need that information? Not very. And if you do it’s perfectly fine for it to be a click or two away and not jamming up the main search page.
The potential problem for Microsoft here is perception. It can’t get out from Google’s shadow. After three years of trying to create authentic design and search features, Bing has been unable to move the needle. Google’s search share percentage seems to be an immovable object. So Microsoft has thrown in the towel and is emulating Google’s look.
But maybe in this case, less is more. Dressing up Bing with bells and whistles hasn’t worked. Maybe stripping it down will do better. Time will tell if an emphasis on simplicity and continued integration with social sites like Facebook and Twitter will help Bing take market share away from the mighty Google.