Does Bing Visual Search Actually Work?

Microsoft dropped a major new Bing feature today: "visual search." It does what it sounds like, instead of giving you a list of links with thumbnails, Bing gives you a bunch of images you can sort through. But does this actually help?


Announced at the TechCrunch50 today, visual search is a gallery-based system that helps you refine by clicking through rows of stuff. Microsoft says they developed the feature because images seem to please Web users.


Give visual search a shot, and you'll notice one thing first: you have install Microsoft's awful Silverlight plug-in to use it. Alright Redmond, I'll play along. Once back in Bing, you can enjoy some sample searches. I picked digital cameras. This was a bad idea, since most digital cameras look the same--even to a cameraphile like me. Click on one, and you're zipped straight to text-based list results. So much for the images.


The feature works better for things that stick in your brain because of their aesthetic appeal--things like books or cars. Even so, visual search isn't very deep; when I click on something, I want the visual goodness to keep going, and it doesn't. Still, for some searches--faces, art, and so on--Bing now has another edge on Google.

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  • Joshua Stengel

    " have install Microsoft's awful Silverlight plug-in to use it."

    What an incredibly ignorant and presumptuous statement to make. You herald the features this plug-in provides yet label it as "awful". Your credibility takes a hit for this article.

  • Natalya Pastukh

    Obviously, the hand bag search result works much better than the camera result. And yes, I think it is helpful with some suitable queries.

    I think it's beneficial to the web economy as a whole that ever since it's relaunch, Live Search / Bing is gaining interesting features which help forming an alternative to the Google monolith.