The Bing Bar

By Sunshine | Posted December 3, 2009 9 comments

Also announced yesterday is the Bing Bar. Another search/tool bar? Yes and no, it replaces the MSN Toolbar Beta. If you go to the MSN toolbar URL you get the following page:
BingBarCA
I’ve set it to en-ca here, now there’s a few different ones, in the UK you get
BingBarUK
They have to wait? :O 
In the US it already redirects you to their new Bing Bar page, http://www.discoverbing.com/toolbar/
BingBar
This new Bing Bar is powered by Microsoft Silverlight and works for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. If you have both on your computer, like me, then one installation will install it in both browsers.

Some of the features are:

  • Search Assist – start typing in the search box and see suggested searches, image suggestions, and your search history. Notice also how as soon as you signal to us that you’re going to ‘search’ we expose the search options (like images, videos, etc) in the bar.
    searchsuggestions searchbuttonshighlight

  • Browse Plus – sometimes you don’t want to search – you want knowledge and information to come to you. The Bing Bar pulls content from across the web and will even alert you to breaking news when it’s happening. You can also tell the bar to watch things for you – like stocks and sports – and let it handle the searches for you.

  • No-Fail Cash Detector: let the Bing Bar help you save money when shopping online. Do a search on a site like craigslist.org and the Bing Bar conducts a “search” on your behalf, figures out if there are merchants where you can get Bing Cashback on that product, and alerts you by flashing the Cashback icon.

Let’s install this toolbar shall we? The first screen we see is this one:
BingBarInstallation 
Here we set our locale and choose the additional options. Then let it go ahead and install (close browsers as it tells you to do).

Once it’s installed open up your browser and customize the toolbar to your likings. First off I miss access to Windows Live, so I’m going to add the Windows Live button (click +).
ButtonboxWindowsLiveButton
At first I was clicking on the button expecting it to go straight into the toolbar, but nope that’s not how it works! You drag and drop the button where you want it, you can even rearrange the ones already there! Buttons in the toolbar you don’t want you simply drag back into the button box. As you can see there are plenty of buttons, so take your pick and click “Done” when you are done. On news the buttons will blink and color.

Now for final customizations click the wrench:
ToolbarOptions
4 more screens! In the first you can choose the color for the toolbar and even set a theme if you want. Available themes are Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter.

Now we’re done customizing, my toolbar looks like this:
MyBingBar 
Now mind the Weather button:
Weather
You can set it to locations you want and get a 5 day forecast. You also get to choose to show temperatures in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Another feature is the Safety Center:
SafetyCenter
This will tell you if your safety is up to par!

All done now, log in on the bar and explore.

Now if only this toolbar would offer synchronization of favorites (and perhaps have a translator button) I could kiss the Windows Live Toolbar goodbye, don’t like heaps of toolbars, as this Bing Bar lacks nothing else!

More read of interest:
Bing: Connecting People, Places and Things

Posted December 3rd, 2009 at 1:22 pm
Category: Bing
Tags: BingBar, Silverlight
  • JohnCz

    @Sunshine, I’m hoping you might be able to shed some light on the following…

    1. Does the Bing Bar allow you to preview Windows Live What’s New, Mail, Photos, Calendar like Windows Live Toolbar does?

    2. Are they using IE WebSlices?

    3. Is there any way to make the toolbar thinner? That has been one my issues with MSN Toolbar..it consumed to much of the screen.

    4. What do you think this means for the future of WL Toolbar? Done? Have you heard anything from WL Team about future work on it?

    Thanks

  • JohnCz

    Followup on #4, I’m not sure Microsoft can just drop WL Toolbar. I think they have WL Essentials installed by default by alot of OEMs that have include WL Toolbar. So if they do drop WL Toolbar, I think they’ll have to do something to make it easy for consumer to be aware that there is an update and allow the user to initiate the update process. Thats all assuming the WL Team doesn’t have plans to differentiate their toolbar from Bing’s.

  • JohnCz

    Okay, so I installed it and answered some of my other questions…

    #1..NO :(
    #2..Only the dedicated Hotmail button and it displays a limited number of items before scroll bar is displayed
    #3..The thickness of toolbar isn’t so bad.
    But the Bing
    #4..Its interesting that when I installed this that Bing Toolbar is being referred to as a platform. I wonder if WL team is remove itself from developing a dedicated toolbar and instead build a widget ontop of this.

    Other comments, as usual you can’t hide the search text box. I’d like microsoft to hide it if I already have Bing setup as the default in my browser. I understand the need to showcase Bing but I am already a Bing user. This would also allow me to place more buttons in the toolbar.

  • Sunshine

    JohnCZ,
    1. No preview in Windows Live Button, yes in the Hotmail one and all others
    2. Nope, you could use the webslice for “What’s New” for your preview tho..but not from that bar (in favorites bar)
    3. Nope, no customizations besides those mentioned
    4. I haven’t heard anything from the WL Team regarding the WL Toolbar. Though it is highly unlikely that the Bing Bar and WL Toolbar will be merged, I’m someone who would be all for it if they did. All those toolbars take up screen estate and all of them have a search box in it too, I mean how many search boxes do you need? Now if I could leave out the search box in either one or both I might even be able to use the toolbars beside each other instead of below each other….that would solve the biggest issue for me already.

  • Alber1690

    The UI has gotten a very nice facelift, but I agree with many of your guys’ points. They should enable a feature that detects your browser’s search provider and then gives you the option to disable the rather large search box. With the Windows Live sign-in functionality, I don’t see why adding the Favorites feature should be so hard to implement. But sadly, due to the extremely large and disgusting “X” that IE8 adds in front of any add-on, I won’t be able to enjoy the toolbar, in IE at least; it looks very nice in FF (come on IE team, stop giving me reasons to switch!).

    Also, the version of the Bing logo graphic for the installer is quite interesting, never had seen that edition of the “b” from Bing logo.

  • halo2redvsblue

    I want a Favorite button like in windows live toolbar. I also want them to just make one toolbar.

  • Bart

    Besides frustrating users by not giving them one proper sollution, I dont understand way Microsoft has “teams” working ‘against’ each other instead of working together. Too much cash available???
    The one thing for me is favoristes sync with Skydrive.
    Come on teams, give us that one fantastic toolbar!!!

  • contana

    I’m contana, nice to meet u.

  • contana

    contana.