The Microsoft Bing seach engine has been a long time in the making. It was originally branded as the MSN search, Windows Live search and then rebranded as simply Live Search. It was never able to compete very effectively with previous and current popular search engines. The time since during the late 1990's through 2005 was a tumultuous period of shake-ups in the search engine space. Many of the past competitors have been wiped out, and merged with other providers. Yahoo has maintained a dedicated search engine user base because of its extremely popular portal, and IM apps.

   After the shake-up Microsoft has had its sights on dethroning its biggest competitor Google. In an attempt to make a more relevant search engine Microsoft has invested a lot of time, programming, and resources into building its Live Search into a powerhouse that could effectively compete with Google. Bing was born in the summer of 2009, as a rebranded Live Search, to compete head-on with the king of search. Microsoft also inked a deal with Yahoo to provide its Bing search results as Yahoo branded results. This has propelled Bing into the 2nd place spot in the search engine arena. 

   The new Bing search engine has a lot of compelling features which has made it a very relevant competitor to Google. You can perform more complex math equations in the search than you can with Google, the company still maintains its free 411 service, Google offered a free 411 service until October, 2010. Bing also has a great feature when searching for videos you can see a quick few seconds of preview when you hover over the result without clicking. It also has a fantastic flight tracking system that will show you the best flight prices. The results have become less spammy and more competitive since the rebranding as well. Microsoft has clearly learned from past mistakes in re-building its web search engine.

   As a sweetener for using the search engine Microsoft is offering a Bing toolbar that can be integrated with Internet Explorer. After setting up a quick Microsoft live account you will start getting rewarded based on the number of searches you perform each day. There are also some searches that Microsoft thinks are especially useful for a given day, and you will get additional reward points for performing the searches. The neat thing about doing those types of searches is that you will see all the different features Bing has up its sleeves. I've learned a lot of tricks by following those searches.

  Once you've accumulated enough points you will be able to redeem them for different prizes. There are a couple hundred different choices. They range from popular hardback books, DVD's, software, t-shirts, to gift cards. My personal favorite is the Amazon Gift card. A $5 gift card can be had for 541 reward points. In the past few months I've accumulated $20 in Amazon cards for normal search engine use. Not too bad at all!

  There are a few things I would like to see Microsoft change in future releases of Bing; the toolbar is a bit buggy when typing in searches, you have to make sure that the box kept up with your typing. Another request is to allow searches to tag only certain date ranges. That is one of my most beloved advanced features in the Google search engine. All-in-all I think Microsoft has made a really great search engine. I still love Google, but I will take the rewards that Microsoft offers.