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Bing adds music, videos, games

Tuesday, Microsoft's Bing search engine built on a good news month--Apple added Bing to the search options in the iPhone and its Safari browser, followed by Google's awkward imitation of Bing's artistic home-page photos--by adding some potentially useful search shortcuts.

That's "potentially" because some of these features aren't working yet.

As a company blog post explains, these changes aim to free users from having to click through to other sites (and, in the process, risk themselves to a "drive-by download" malware attack).

First, if you try a query that Bing recognizes as musically inclined, it will include links to play relevant songs--in many cases, entire recordings, not just 30-second previews--and view their lyrics. A query for "r.e.m. radio free europe lyrics," for instance, will connect you to a page with the song's inscrutable verbiage ("Keep me out of country in the word") and an option to listen to the 1983 recording. But on Wednesday afternoon, that second link only led to an apologetic please-come-back-later notice.

Lyrics sites have a bad history of leading Web users to their computers' doom, so by eliminating the need to look elsewhere Bing does its users a favor. (Bing gets its lyrics from Toronto-based LyricFind, which develops applications for the iPhone, Android and Facebook.) But it's a little weird that its site is coded to stop users from selecting and copying a verse or a chorus, and it also misses some less-than-obscure works--if you want to read Lou Reed's wonderful wordplay in "Sick of You," you'll have to search elsewhere.

Second, a Bing search for a TV show or movie title now surfaces extra data. For example, looking for "The Simpsons" brought up thumbnail previews of individual episodes, which started playing once I parked the cursor over each; clicking on the thumbnail brought up a Bing page showing the episode at a more normal size. TV-schedule listings are supposed to come later. Searches for "Mad Men" and "The Office," however, yielded nothing special. A query for "Toy Story 3," meanwhile, brought up a list of show times as well as links to reviews, blog posts and the movie's Wikipedia entry.

Finally, if you search for some popular games--for instance, Bejeweled or blackjack--Bing will let you play them right on its site. Microsoft says it's added "nearly 100" titles, courtesy of its Microsoft Games division, but many searches I tried ("sudoku," "checkers," "Risk") didn't pan out.

The easiest way to try these new features, however, is not to throw in random queries as I just did, but to visit Bing's Entertainment page, which lets you browse through them all. Have a look and post your own review in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 23, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Search , Security , The Web  
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Next: Judge junks Viacom's YouTube suit


Pretty good. I started at the entertainment site as you suggested.I like the right sidebar that lets me preview and drill with one click...

Posted by: tbva | June 23, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

There is a single reason why Google became the #1 search engine back in the day: Speed. Sites like Excite, Altavista, or Lycos insisted upon loading an entire portal before giving you the textbox for your search. Advertisements, news, forum status and whatnot. A dense screen full of garbage that you had to scan through to find the text entry field for searching. Depending upon how the various servers responsible for different parts of that portal were getting along at the time, your wait before you could do a search was anywhere between annoying and teeth-grindingly infuriating.

Google, on the other hand, gave you a clean and clear page that loaded fast regardless of your connection speed. Google's main page is a little more busy now, though not by much.

While few people access the Internet via dialup anymore and access speeds have improved since the mid 1990's, loading a busy, Flash-ridden portal to do a Web search is still a turn-off for many users. I have no idea if Microsoft is following the Yahoo model or the Google model of search engine portals, but knowing Microsoft's penchant for bloat and featuritis, I feel confident that we will find the kitchen sink loading on Bing's portal in the not-too-distant future. When that happens, they will have lost to Google (again).

An excess of gimmicks on your portal will discourage serious users from setting that portal as the default page for when they pop open a fresh window or tab. What counts as 'an excess' varies from user to user, of course, and depends upon how serious the user is and how much Internet bandwidth and spare local system resources are available to them. If they have a few spare cores just idling and a big fat fiberoptic pipe to the I`net backbone, then they might not mind loading a couple Flash games/ads and megabytes worth of images, widgets, applets, and extraneous garbage just to do a quick search on the molar weight of rhodium. On the other hand, they might just use Google...

Posted by: Geezle | June 24, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

The person who commented above is right, also.

But also sometimes I looked around and its too much flying things. I just want to search for stuff, All the weird things is to much for my senses and have no need. Maybe they plan to condition our minds so that they can put ""more advertising into smaller Spaces""

Has anyone studied the long-term effects of subliminal advertising and media saturation?
Not everyone is into entertainment all the time. You Only PARTY on the Weekends...
I kind of like how voccal has their live tv while searching design. I still can't find anyone who is this, where you can watch whcih seems like live broadcasts of television on the internet, and watch this which doing a common search query. If anyone knows of such a list of sites hit me up cause I would appreciate, thanks wp crew

Posted by: MellisaandBill | June 25, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

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