We compare top features of three search engines - Bing, Google, and Yahoo to find out which is best.

Microsoft recently unveiled its next-generation search service, Bing. The search engine comes packed with search tools such as an Explorer Pane for refining searches, Quick Previews for sneaking a peek at a site before visiting it, and Sentiment Extraction for making sense of product reviews.

But in an arena where Google currently rules the roost, closely followed by Yahoo can Microsoft gain market share?

Google has outwitted its competitors by delivering solid search results and cool tools such as Street Views. Yahoo has done a masterful job of integrating search results with its rich network of Yahoo content. Search for the musician Sting within Yahoo, and presto - you're watching Yahoo music videos or listening to streaming audio of Sting singing 'Desert Rose' from within your search results.

How do these services stack up against each other? Bing targets four categories of search: shopping, local, travel, and health. In a highly subjective comparison, I tested Bing, Google, and Yahoo in these areas and in others.

Home pages: all three

Bing's front page is distinctly flashy, thanks to its stunning photography. Nevertheless, navigation for specialised search is easy to find. Bing's front door also includes plenty of shortcuts to other Microsoft-owned web destinations such as MSN, Windows Live, and Bing Travel. It would be nice to see a shortcut to my Microsoft-managed inbox.

For its part, Google embraces the elegant simplicity of a white background and the Google Search text field. Blue links to key Google features in the upper left corner make checking email a snap.

The Yahoo home page is considerably busier. This reflects the company's desire to be not just a search engine, but a starting point for internet surfing. Its scattershot approach features search, news, communications tools, and such specifics as a horoscope.

My favorite: Bing

Search results: all three

Search results for Bing have two main components: a left-hand navigation panel of Quick Tabs that allow you to focus your search fast; and a centre row of categorised search results, which simply group results in logical categories. Search results include instant answers, deep links, and multimedia.

Google and Yahoo search results are delivered no-frills-style with blue links descending from most to least relevant. Both of these search engines deliver results that may include instant answers, deep links, and multimedia.

My favorite: Google

Pop search: all three

When it comes to searching for a popular recording artist such as Britney Spears, Yahoo search doesn't stop at delivering the expected links to fan pages; it also displays videos that play straight from the search results. And by clicking the Yahoo Media Player tab on the left side of the search results, you can listen to streaming music on a slide-out streaming audio player.

Bing delivers videos that you can preview simply by hovering your cursor over them. Google offers videos by the artist as well, but they aren't as prominently displayed as on Bing and Yahoo.

My favorite: Bing

NEXT PAGE: Airfare search

  1. Just which performs the best?
  2. Airfare search
  3. Video search
  4. Shopping search
  5. Local search