Bing is introducing a totally redesigned version of its toolbar, called the “Bing Bar.” Apparently it has been “rebuilt from the ground up,” says Microsoft’s Stefan Weitz. Indeed, it operates more like a kind of “dashboard” than a conventional toolbar with links to various sites. And yes, the Bing Rewards loyalty program is still in force.
The new toolbar, which is graphically more pleasing to look at than a conventional toolbar, enables users to get lots of different types of information via drop-down windows: news, weather, maps, multiple email accounts, movies, games and so on — in addition to search.
Users can obtain and interact with their Facebook feeds, for example, without going to the site. In this way it sort of borrows from Bing’s philosophy of enabling users to quickly get to information or complete tasks without having to click through or down a level to another site.
These content modules effectively operate like browser tabs and diminish the need (for some) to have 15 tabs open simultaneously.
For regular Bing users as well as non-users it’s a useful tool — so to speak. Unfortunately there’s no Mac version and it only works with IE (7 or later). On a Windows machine you need Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 3.
Weitz said that 12 percent of all searches happen through toolbars. However he was unaware of the precise number of Bing searches in particular happening via toolbars. Microsoft has used computer hardware OEM-toolbar distribution deals in the past as a cornerstone of its new customer acquisition strategy for Bing.
We didn’t get visibility on whether Bing toolbar users are more engaged and loyal than other types of Bing users. I would assume they are however. Bing also captures valuable clickstream data from toolbars (if permitted by users).
And now for the unpleasant part where I allude to the Google-Bing “copygate” controversy. Those who wish to revisit the claims and responses can click the links below. Now back to Bing; if I were a regular PC user I would definitely install the Bing Bar and use it. Unfortunately, however, my primary computer is a Mac.
As a final thought, someone at Microsoft ought to either buy or sponsor a local Seattle watering hole and get the owner to rename it . . . you guessed it: the “Bing Bar.”
For related stories on this across the web, see here on Techmeme. Also see below for past stories related to this topic from Search Engine Land.
- Colbert: “Hiybbprqag Is A Word Meaning You Got Served”
- Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results
- Bing Admits Using Customer Search Data, Says Google Pulled ‘Spy-Novelesque Stunt’
- Bing: ‘We Do Not Copy Results. Period.’
- Google On Toolbar: We Don’t Use Bing’s Searches
- Microsoft Releases New MSN Toolbar, Now Powered By Bing
- Microsoft Launches A New Loyalty Program: Bing Rewards