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September 14, 2009

Bing Visual Search

Gone are the days when search engines provided mostly textual information, a list of 10 blue links that invite you to find the answers on your own. Search engines are now focused on extracting useful information from web pages and surfacing data in interesting ways.

In June, Google launched Squared, a Labs project that generates lists of entities related to your query and finds values for the associated attributes. Search for [dog breeds] and you'll find a list of breeds, suggestive images, information about the average weight and the country of origin.

Bing, Microsoft's search engine, has just launched a similar feature: visual search. It's just an early demo and it requires Siverlight, but it looks more impressive than Google Squared. Probably because Microsoft built the interface around images and used the attributes to refine the results.

"Visual Search allows you to quickly scroll through the galleries or do a one-click refinement using the quick tabs on the left, which are specifically relevant to the type of results you are browsing through," mentions Bing's blog.


Bing's visual galleries are more polished than the results generated by Google Squared, but Bing only shows galleries for a small number of queries like "popular TV shows" or "world leaders" and the information is obtained from structured data sources.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft manages to extend the visual search engine and dynamically generate results for any query. For now, you can play with the demo galleries.

19 comments:

  1. "Requires Microsoft Silverlight"

    As neat as it looks, I'm dismayed that Microsoft didn't use standard web technologies for this. The last thing people want to do is download another plugin to view content on the web.

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  2. Man, The comment above (Tom Metron, #1) said EVERYTHING!!! Agreed 100%. Where is the accebility?? Because of that "Microsoft behavior", i don't use Bing. don't intend to do so.

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  3. Hum, the URL http://www.bing.com/visualsearch didn't work. I wonder if this is regional? I'm in Canada. But, I completely agree with the first couple of comments regarding Silverlight. It's edging on insulting to have to install a plug-in just to see search results!!

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  4. Sllverlight is a standard technology at this point. It's penetration lags Flash, but there are few others ahead of it. It's avaliable for more than just Windows as well. While the Microsoft-as-Bogeyman card is continually played, Google's tentacles are getting longer & deeper. If you avoid Bing for this reason, you should avoid Google as well.

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  5. Well said Todd. Microsoft Silverlight is very much becoming a mainstream part of the browser. If you don't think so ask netflix, mlb.com, nba.com, and Sunday Night football.

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  6. Good Innovative concept

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  7. wow but this may be bad for webmasters
    because all content will be on search results

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  8. alright I must say they are making the effort to truly surpass Google and Yahoo in one go.!

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  9. MS is trying to improve silverlight penetration but it will loose Bing users

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  10. I hardly want to read Google compliment Microsoft or vice-versa. Stick to hyping your own products and let the media compare them.

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  11. Dear Anonymous,

    This is not Google's opinion because I don't work or speak for Google. It's just a post from an unofficial blog about Google. When was the last time when Google reviewed a competitor's service?

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  12. "I'm dismayed that Microsoft didn't use standard web technologies for this"

    My question is; what is standard web technologies? Flash? Flash is an Adobe product in the same way that Silverlight is a Microsoft product.

    I still have to download Flash and I still need to update it from time to time.

    I personally think that Microsoft deserves an "A" for this outstanding effort.

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  13. Web Standards are changing daily. Silverlight will come standard/installed on all new Window OS's or new IE browsers. When you have your own OS you can control the game. Silverlight is really intergrated into Visual Studio 2010, so expect to see more silverlight websites after next summer.

    I wonder if Google will change their bots to crawl content in Silverlight, hint...

    I love Flash, and Flash can technically do the same thing as Silverlight, but what avaliable tools does Adobe have to came make integration with media formats simple like Visual Studio? No, Dreamweaver does not make it simple to port server side with Flash. And who used ColdFusion now a days?

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  14. Back to the topic at hand, I'm totally unimpressed by this Bing in general and Visual Search in particular. The Visual Search content is clearly directly under the control of Microsoft, and is not "wild". When I see wild content being indexed in this way, I'll be impressed.
    Bing is an effort at rebranding, obviously made because "Live Search" did rude things to goats. It doesn't provide any more reliability in generating search results than did it's predecessor; all the bells and whistles in the world won't change that.

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  15. Looks suspiciously hardcoded.

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  16. BING VISUAL SEARCH DOESN'T WORK! CHECK THE LINK AND YOU WILL SEE. INCREDIBLE FOR A FEATURE THAT JUST LAUNCHED.

    http://www.bing.com/visualsearch

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  17. alright I must say they are making the effort to truly surpass Google and Yahoo in one go.!

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