Three weeks ago, I switched from Google search to Bing. There, I said it. No longer do I Google something; I Bing it. And I haven't looked back since.
The move away from Google wasn't easy. Sometime in the late 1990s, I was invited to test out Google's search engine. I moved from poring though filing cabinets to typing queries in a search box. If it was out there on the Web, Google promised, Google would find it.
And it did. Over the years, Google became smarter and more responsive. Google Instant auto-suggested search results before I finished typing them. "Google it" became part of my vernacular.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Bing search engine was getting no respect. Bing it? Please.
But Bing doggedly continued to improve. It added social connections and "cards" identifying key topics and related searches. It improved speed and reliability. Then one day, when I wanted to dig up older stories I had written using Google's search engine, I found I had better luck finding them using Bing.
So I switched.
By the end of this story, I'll tell you how to switch your browser's search engine from Google to Bing in just a few seconds. But before that, here are some of my favorite (and yes, even bizarre) reasons to switch to Bing.
Number one? Because Microsoft will pay you.
1. Search for cash with Bing Rewards
I'm cheap. I'll generally pass up a $12 artisanal beef slider at the food trucks near my office in favor of a less expensive salad that could stuff a throw pillow. I often wear the same pants two days in a row to save on my water bill. I use coupons.
So if Microsoft wants to pay me about $5 a month to do what I normally do? Sign me up.
The concept behind Bing Rewards is simple: As you search, Microsoft gives you credits. You earn 1 credit per two Bing searches on a desktop PC (up to 15 credits per day), or 10 credits per day for searching Bing via a mobile app. Bing searches are automatically triggered via Cortana on a Windows Phone, or the Bing Search app for Android or iOS.
The best part: These credits can be redeemed for things you'll actually use.
For 475 credits, Microsoft will give you $5 to spend at Amazon, or Fandango, Sephora, Starbucks, or other merchants. You can also redeem your rewards for a nice 5% coupon at the Microsoft Store, discounts on Windows and Windows Phone apps, or even a free month of Xbox Live Gold. Use Bing frequently enough, and you can climb your way up to Silver or Gold status, which confers a 10-percent "discount" on credit redemptions.
And this is all for simply using Bing during the course of your day.
2. Search quality: as good or better than Google's
I wouldn't even mention Bing Rewards if Bing itself wasted your time. But it doesn't. My personal belief is that Bing delivers slightly more useful information than Google in general search. And don't worry: Using Bing still means that you can use other Google services, like Gmail, as often as you'd like.
If I search for a term like "Notre Dame football," Bing makes better use of that vast, white space on the right side, displaying contextual information about the school, its history, news, and more. (Both engines show me the recent scores, but Google's card displays a more complete upcoming schedule.)
Bing's lead widens when you search for celebrities, as it includes videos as well as images and biographical information. And though Microsoft could do a better job highlighting this information, Bing provides one-click links to a celeb's social media pages for what they're thinking about, right now.
There are exceptions, of course. One of Bing's odd quirks is an inability to list the home page for Windows Phone Central as the top search result. But, in general, Bing performs as well or better on most of my common, day-to-day searches than Google does.
3. Bing gets the picture
That goes for image searches, too. Bing was first to implement the "infinite scroll" in Bing Images, where users could simply scroll and scroll and never reach the "end" of their search results. Today, Bing's image search adds an extra layer of search filters that Google users must drill down to find, including options to show only pictures with faces, for example, or display images in a particular layout. And if you need to find a licensed photo to illustrate a newsletter, Bing makes that information more easily accessible than Google does.
About the only reason to use Google's image search if you're hunting down animated GIF images, as this is an option Bing has yet to offer.
Keep reading to see how Bing gives you more video search results than Google.
4. Bing shows more video, if you can bear to look
For whatever reason, the conventional wisdom is that Bing is the porn search engine of choice. Wander through some of Reddit's Microsoft forums, and it'll eventually come up. Heck, The Daily Dot even dedicated an entire article to it.
Part of the reason is that, even with filtering turned off, Google now takes a rather puritanical attitude toward filtering copyrighted videos, while Microsoft has adopted a more libertarian approach. Bing simply shows you videos about your search topic from around the Web, whether it be "baseball" or "boobs."
That's not to say that Bing is a shadowy corner of the Web full of smut and depravity. Thumbnail images of anything Bing thinks is for adults only are actually blurred out by default. But if you're searching for something tagged Not Safe for Work, be aware that Microsoft will show it to you (assuming your search filtering options allow for it, of course).
Oddly enough, neither Google nor Microsoft shrinks much from violence. Both turned up what I assume to be complete videos of the various hostage beheadings in the Middle East, none of which I cared to watch.
A snap to switch
If you're a lifelong Googler and Bing's advantages intrigue you, great. Here's how to switch.
Both Microsoft and Google offer their own browsers to go along with their own search engines. With Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Google's Chrome, both companies preconfigure their browsers to use their own search engines by default, accessible via the search bar at the top of the screen. (Of course, you can visit bing.com or google.com and search there anytime you'd like.)
Switching Chrome's search provider to Bing is relatively simple: In the upper right corner, you'll see a tiny menu icon that looks like three horizontal lines on top of each other. Click it. Near the bottom of the drop-down menu, you'll see "Settings." That, in turn, will lead you to a second menu where, halfway down, you'll have the option of configuring your search provider.
Microsoft hides its search engine configurations as well. If you have IE set up to use Google, go to the URL bar and click the magnifying-glass (search) icon. At the bottom right of the drop-down menu, click Add. Click the tiny Bing icon at the left bottom to set Microsoft's search engine once again as your default.
About the only change that Bing currently foists upon you is sending you to Bing Maps, not Google Maps. And if you're searching for videos, guess what: Google's YouTube isn't exactly Bing's first choice.
Bing offers as-good-as-Google search capabilities, plus many little added conveniences and rewards to entice you to switch. Doing so takes just seconds. Are these enough to make you try out Bing yourself? Let us know in the comments.