Microsoft Bing masterclass

Top tips & tricks to use Bing search and maps more efficiently.

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by Carrie-Ann Skinner, PC Advisor - In June 2009 along came Bing, Microsoft's revamped search engine. This replaced the Live Search brand and was geared up to challenge Google's hold on the search market.

It's had a design overhaul, with the new-look engine getting a navigation bar, a preview feature and categorised search results. But Microsoft says Bing's main improvement is its ability to scour the web more deeply and to deliver more relevant results faster.

Microsoft must be doing something right. ComScore reported that Bing's share of the US search market rose from 9.4 percent in September to 10.7 percent in December. However, this hasn't affected Google much: its own share rose from 64.9 to 65.7 percent. Microsoft has some way to go before knocking Google off the top spot.

With this in mind, the company has launched a number of enhancements to Bing Maps and launched StreetSide, its answer to Google Street View.

Over the following pages, we'll show you how to get the most out of the search engine and the new functions in Bing Maps.

Meet Bing

Google prides itself on having a clean, minimalist design and offering a list of highly relevant results. Bing, on the other hand, organises its results into search categories such as Maps, Images, Videos and Shopping. These categories are created dynamically in response to your query.

Rather than relying heavily on the keywords used in your query, Bing delivers results based on what it thinks you're looking for. Microsoft insists this technology will help you find the answer you're looking for more quickly.

A quick glance at the Bing home page reveals a more colourful design than that of Google. Below the search box are three links to items Microsoft thinks you might find interesting.

The Bing home page changes daily, depicting different locations and events. Hover your cursor over the image for links to further information.

To search, simply enter your keyword or phrase into the search box and press Enter or click the orange magnifying glass symbol to the right. Bing will suggest popular search phrases that match your query as you type. These suggestions can be turned off by selecting Preferences in the top righthand corner and removing the tick next to 'Turn suggestions on'.

Bing's safety features, which are set to Moderate by default, can also be adjusted from the Preferences pane. Select Change, then choose Strict, Moderate or Off.

The main search results window displays the most popular results. Click the links below your search phrase or keyword to drill down to categories such as News, Images, Videos and Biography.

Advanced search options

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