I am search-engine-agnostic. I use several of them without favour and without particularly liking any of them. Google’s lack of privacy scares me but I like the mapping, Bing’s home image often makes me smile and once in a while I earn enough points to gain a £5 John Lewis e-voucher but I grumble when it can’t find the most obvious things. Yahoo, oh wait, I haven’t used that since Steve Ballmer foolishly offered a ridiculously large sum to buy it and Yahoo even more foolishly turned that ridiculously large sum down.
Bing had an Ed Balls moment today when it felt it had to tell us all that it’s ten years old (Wikipedia thought it was two days ago until someone quickly updated the entry for Bing). I thought I’d retry some of the failed Bing searches I have noted over the last few years to see if it had improved.
Some errors aren’t Bing’s fault. The Christmas quiz from 2018 had the following question and any decent pub-quiz fan knows the film version of Walking in the Air was sung by was Peter Thingamebob. Let me just Google his surname.
Whilst some search issues could be put down to temporary glitches (a search for the fashion brand “Moncler” didn’t even show the official website on page 1 let alone the top result, or a search for “Empire of the Sun” returned absolutely no results), Bing does especially badly on places. Many times I’ve popped in place names, either in the Bing homepage or directly within Bing maps and some obscure place is displayed as opposed to the big, famous, obvious choice. Most of these seem fixed now:
Fixed – “Lambeth”, Bing maps displayed somewhere near Hatfield as opposed to the London Borough of Lambeth. A bit too far to do the Lambeth Walk. Ok, no more puns, I promise.
Fixed – Enter “Southend” in Bing maps and it showed Southend in Canada.
Fixed – “Richmond Upon Thames train station” and Bing suggested Norbiton Railway Station.
Fixed – Search for “Manchester Piccadilly Station” and Bing showed a different station on the outskirts of Manchester.
Fixed – Search for “Warrington” and click maps; displayed the tiny village of Warrington near Milton Keynes rather than the bleeding obvious Warrington near Manchester.
Fixed – Same for “Croydon”. Bing used to show Croydon in Cambridgeshire as its first result.
Fixed – Same with Preston. Displayed a small village near Cirencester.
Fixed – Same with Bury. Displayed a small village in West Sussex.
Not fixed – I’m signed into Bing and my location is Bracknell. About 15 miles away, on the other side of Reading, is a place called Calcot. It has a big Sainbury’s Savacentre and an Ikea so it’s not obscure. But search for Calcot (and remember, Bing knows where I am) and I get results from a building in Gloucestershire.
So it does seem Bing improves over time. The former Bing product manager at Microsoft UK used to send very good explanatory emails about the vagaries of search algorithms when employees would send him glitches like these and it’s nice to see they may have had an impact.
It is still a very silly name though.