I don’t use Bing very often. Neither does the majority of the Internet — a fact that must upset Microsoft. In the last 14 years, Google has snapped up the vast majority of the search market by being the fastest, cleanest, most accurate way to search. Some may debate whether Google is still the best, but I can’t imagine Bing is going to win any points today.
On Monday, Microsoft pushed out a new optional update to Windows Update manager: Bing Desktop. The update, which really shouldn’t be in Windows Update at all, adds a giant Bing Search box to the middle of your desktop. The only feature of the box is to type search queries, which brings up the Bing Web site in a browser window (where it belongs). That’s it. A big ugly search box that you can’t move around (you can only set it to the middle of the screen or top). Was using Bing that hard before? Are my searches so important that I need a giant search box? What the eff, Microsoft?
Microsoft isn’t inventing the idea of integrating a search engine into its OS. Google kicked off the trend when it embedded itself deeply into Android phones and tablets. But at least it thought things through. The Google search areas in Android are hardly noticeable or annoying. They’re cleverly built into the phone and actually enhance the experience. Why can’t the Bing Desktop bar be integrated into the Windows taskbar, where it could be useful? The laziness of this app is silly.
There is one other feature, which may get more use than the Bing box itself. You can set your desktop background to match up with the daily fancy images on the Bing homepage. That’s cool. Sadly, if you want that image, you have to look at a giant logo of Bing in the lower right.
I suppose there is no real harm done here if you’re paying attention, but if you forget to uncheck boxes during installation, you’re in for a world of annoyance. By default, Bing Desktop will change your computer’s wallpaper to Bing, set your homepage to MSN, and make Bing your default search provider in Internet Explorer. Ugh.
Microsoft, if you want to put Bing into Windows just go for it. This half-hearted effort to annoy users is just lame. Is Bing doing so poorly you have to stoop to this?