Bing Bar: Quick first impressions: Can we learn to love a toolbar?

By Kip Kniskern | In Bing, Featured | Posted February 17, 2011 60 comments

Bing just released their new-version toolbar that they’re calling the Bing Bar, and as usual, even before installing it, as with any toolbar we had an instant negative reaction.  Toolbars, yuck.  They’re slow, they take up valuable real estate, and mostly they’re thinly veiled attempts to track your data without giving back much in return.  We’ve installed, and quickly uninstalled, a number of toolbars before, including previous versions of the Bing Toolbar, and the MSN Toolbar.

bing-bar-download

Download the Bing Bar

So when we spotted today’s announcement, we weren’t expecting to be impressed.  The Facebook integration was interesting, though, so we went ahead and installed the Bing Bar in IE9 RC.  Aside from wanting to change the default search in Firefox, which was a little weird, the Bing Bar installed quickly, and the first of our surprises came when we saw how it looked in IE9:

bing-bar

As you can see, the Bing Bar uses the same background color as IE, and blends in with the surroundings.  Yes, it takes up some room, but if it adds value, maybe it’s worth it.

The Bing Bar comes with a number of “apps”, these are: Mail, Facebook, News, Weather, Maps, Finance, Translator, Movies, Videos, Games, and Bing Rewards, along with the search bar and a link to the full Bing.com page (the Bing logo).  You can easily add or remove apps, or rearrange them in any order, using the settings dropdown (the three dots on the right):

bing-bar-settings

From the left sidebar of the settings dropdown, you can set alerts, clear your search history, check the version number, or choose whether to allow Microsoft to use information gathered by the Bing Bar.  It’s not quite “big red letters”, but we hope this satisfies Matt Cutts, as it’s simple, clear, and easy to get to:

bing-bar-quality

Peter Bright from Ars Technica asked via Twitter whether the Bing Bar fired off a “slow loading application” warning in IE, and it looks like the Bing engineers have done a lot of work, because IE9 RC reports that the Bing Bar loads in 0.01s.

As for using the Bing Bar, there are some definite advantages, at least for the way we use IE.  Although we like having Bing.com as one of our home page tabs (mostly for the daily picture!), the full Bing is still one click away with the Bing logo in the Bar, and we can also lose another home page tab by using the Facebook integration:

bing-bar-fb

The Facebook tab looks to be a very useful and easy to use window into Facebook, providing basic functions and easy access to the full Facebook.com.

The other tabs open quickly, are clean and easy to look at, and for the most part open quickly.

So, a Bing Bar that blends in to the surroundings, actually adds value, and doesn’t bog down the browser, is it possible we may have come across the first toolbar we’ll keep?

Posted February 17th, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Category: Bing, Featured
Tags: Bing, Toolbar
  • Anonymous

    nope!

  • uberlaff

    nope!

  • Kev

    It’s also really cool how in IE9 your pinned sites have their own settings for using toolbars, favorites bar and other such things. So far, I like this bar and i’ve never ever liked a toolbar or used one for more then a day. And FYI, you can fix that stupid FireFox problem, the key is to not install that crappy browser in the first place.

  • Kev

    It’s also really cool how in IE9 your pinned sites have their own settings for using toolbars, favorites bar and other such things. So far, I like this bar and i’ve never ever liked a toolbar or used one for more then a day. And FYI, you can fix that stupid FireFox problem, the key is to not install that crappy browser in the first place.

  • Claude Dugal

    I like the new Bing bar. It is simple and clean. BTW, it seem that le link with Windows Live ID is going away.

  • Claude Dugal

    I like the new Bing bar. It is simple and clean. BTW, it seem that le link with Windows Live ID is going away.

  • Bnlf

    ill give it a try. previous toolbar was too big.

  • Bnlf

    ill give it a try. previous toolbar was too big.

  • http://twitter.com/gibbyhome Mark Gibbs

    what happend to my live logon and messenger ?? I like the new bar but I don’t know why the removed my live logon and quick links to my profile… I hope the put that back in …

  • Mark Gibbs

    what happend to my live logon and messenger ?? I like the new bar but I don’t know why the removed my live logon and quick links to my profile… I hope the put that back in …

  • Claude

    It look like Bing is getting more friendly “social” with Facebook and moving away of Messenger and “Live ID”

  • Claude

    It look like Bing is getting more friendly “social” with Facebook and moving away of Messenger and “Live ID”

  • Kev

    Well, I gave it a few hours. It’s gone now. I still like it, but it’s really not needed. Messenger gives me all my email and facebook updates and the other featues are not really that usefull.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with that. It’s nice, but not really needed.

  • Kev

    Well, I gave it a few hours. It’s gone now. I still like it, but it’s really not needed. Messenger gives me all my email and facebook updates and the other featues are not really that usefull.

    • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

      I agree with that. It’s nice, but not really needed.

  • http://beaulaurier.com Joe B.

    Bummer. Looks like they’re all out. Just got this message when going to bar.bing.com => HTTP Error 503.3 – Service Unavailable – ASP.NET rejected this request because the queue limit was exceeded.

    • Mario Albertico

      Seems like they just put out a freshly baked batch…looks like we better get in line before they run out again :p

  • http://beaulaurier.com Joe B.

    Bummer. Looks like they’re all out. Just got this message when going to bar.bing.com => HTTP Error 503.3 – Service Unavailable – ASP.NET rejected this request because the queue limit was exceeded.

    • Mario Albertico

      Seems like they just put out a freshly baked batch…looks like we better get in line before they run out again :p

  • Mario Albertico

    The problem though is that IE9 is so beautiful when it’s in its raw and natural state, that anything added on top of it is simply tacky. Especially if we still see those distracting “X”s in front of toolbars…

    • Anonymous

      It would be nice if the “X”s disappeard with normal use!

      • Mario Albertico

        That would actually be a very smart way of dealing with the Xs. You hear that IE team? ;)

        • Anonymous

          I hope to see that feature in the final version… Also it would be nice if there was compatibility view – I don’t know whether it is available for anyone else, but it isn’t for me. Anyone know how to enable it?

          • Mario Albertico

            Compatibility View is still there, they have just hidden the icon with the broken page (which I would hide anyway). From the Command Bar, Compatibility View is listed under the “Page” menu.

          • Anonymous

            The option is greyed out in the page menu.

          • Mario Albertico

            I believe it does that when either the site is already listed in Microsoft’s Compatibility View list or the site is standards compliant. But, I have had it grayed out on some sites, however, most do not. I just checked here on LiveSide, and it is grayed out for me. I checked and expected Amazon.com to be grayed out too, but it is not. Check to see if it’s the same for you.

          • Anonymous

            I looked around in the settings, and I found out that compatibility view was inabled in all sites, for some reason. I took that option off, the option became un-grayed in some sites.

            Thanks for your help.

  • Mario Albertico

    The problem though is that IE9 is so beautiful when it’s in its raw and natural state, that anything added on top of it is simply tacky. Especially if we still see those distracting “X”s in front of toolbars…

    • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

      It would be nice if the “X”s disappeard with normal use!

      • Mario Albertico

        That would actually be a very smart way of dealing with the Xs. You hear that IE team? ;)

        • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

          I hope to see that feature in the final version… Also it would be nice if there was compatibility view – I don’t know whether it is available for anyone else, but it isn’t for me. Anyone know how to enable it?

          • Mario Albertico

            Compatibility View is still there, they have just hidden the icon with the broken page (which I would hide anyway). From the Command Bar, Compatibility View is listed under the “Page” menu.

          • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

            The option is greyed out in the page menu.

          • Mario Albertico

            I believe it does that when either the site is already listed in Microsoft’s Compatibility View list or the site is standards compliant. But, I have had it grayed out on some sites, however, most do not. I just checked here on LiveSide, and it is grayed out for me. I checked and expected Amazon.com to be grayed out too, but it is not. Check to see if it’s the same for you.

          • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

            I looked around in the settings, and I found out that compatibility view was inabled in all sites, for some reason. I took that option off, the option became un-grayed in some sites.

            Thanks for your help.

  • http://twitter.com/jamiet Jamie Thomson

    Pretty cool. I sent them feedback requesting a Project Emporia app on there. That would be awesome.

  • jkth

    Pretty cool. I sent them feedback requesting a Project Emporia app on there. That would be awesome.

  • Anonymous

    It’s nice, but there is no Hotmail Calendar integration and it need more apps and less space. I like the new mail icon!

  • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

    It’s nice, but there is no Hotmail Calendar integration and it need more apps and less space. I like the new mail icon!

  • Anonymous

    Agreed that it’s less obnoxious than previous browser toolbars, but it still takes up a ton of screen real estate, especially given the limited set of buttons (centered? really?) that are currently available. So, they go to extremes to pare down the UI of IE9 down to a minimum, and then throw out a toolbar that adds a big band across the top of the window? And don’t people realize that you can search directly from the address bar these days? Using Bing Rewards feels like earning tickets at Chuck E. Cheese’s…how many points do I need to get anything besides the spider ring?

    Also, where’s the love for Windows Live? Aside from Hotmail (which can’t connect behind our corporate firewall, BTW), I don’t see any integration at all. I think they’re forgetting their roots! BB’s predecessor allowed you to see all your WL updates, access your groups, share favorites, and manage your profile. Is this an indication that Microsoft has finally given up it’s quest to develop a robust social ecosystem of its own?

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      On giving up the WL quest, let’s hope so! (just kidding, sorta). I think my feelings about the Bing Bar is that it actually takes up LESS real estate and looks less intrusive than just about any other toolbar, but it is, in fact, a toolbar. The search/address bar in IE9 is NOT the same as a search bar, try searching for a term similar to a website you’ve accessed. Sometimes you just want to search.
      I have to admit I’m still liking it, although I agree with your issues.

      • Anonymous

        Kip, if you want to ensure you’re searching using IE9, then add a ? ahead of your search (e.g., ? LiveSide will always initiate a search). I just learned about that myself a few days ago.

        • Bryan

          What he said — or use Ctrl-E to add it automatically,

  • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

    Agreed that it’s less obnoxious than previous browser toolbars, but it still takes up a ton of screen real estate, especially given the limited set of buttons (centered? really?) that are currently available. So, they go to extremes to pare down the UI of IE9 down to a minimum, and then throw out a toolbar that adds a big band across the top of the window? And don’t people realize that you can search directly from the address bar these days? Using Bing Rewards feels like earning tickets at Chuck E. Cheese’s…how many points do I need to get anything besides the spider ring?

    Also, where’s the love for Windows Live? Aside from Hotmail (which can’t connect behind our corporate firewall, BTW), I don’t see any integration at all. I think they’re forgetting their roots! BB’s predecessor allowed you to see all your WL updates, access your groups, share favorites, and manage your profile. Is this an indication that Microsoft has finally given up it’s quest to develop a robust social ecosystem of its own?

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      On giving up the WL quest, let’s hope so! (just kidding, sorta). I think my feelings about the Bing Bar is that it actually takes up LESS real estate and looks less intrusive than just about any other toolbar, but it is, in fact, a toolbar. The search/address bar in IE9 is NOT the same as a search bar, try searching for a term similar to a website you’ve accessed. Sometimes you just want to search.
      I have to admit I’m still liking it, although I agree with your issues.

      • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

        Kip, if you want to ensure you’re searching using IE9, then add a ? ahead of your search (e.g., ? LiveSide will always initiate a search). I just learned about that myself a few days ago.

        • Bryan

          What he said — or use Ctrl-E to add it automatically,

  • http://www.pbase.com/brentgv Brent

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s a really good toolbar and I’m going to use it and I’m going to get rewards. Wow. Nice work, Bing team.

    • http://www.pbase.com/brentgv Brent

      I take back what I said. I have had two OS crashes since I installed the toolbar. And I know it’s the result of the add-on because the IE window flashes and everything is unresponsive. But I like the idea. I’ll try again after IE code is final and/or if there is a different toolbar build released.

  • http://www.pbase.com/brentgv Brent

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s a really good toolbar and I’m going to use it and I’m going to get rewards. Wow. Nice work, Bing team.

    • http://www.pbase.com/brentgv Brent

      I take back what I said. I have had two OS crashes since I installed the toolbar. And I know it’s the result of the add-on because the IE window flashes and everything is unresponsive. But I like the idea. I’ll try again after IE code is final and/or if there is a different toolbar build released.

  • Andrew

    Once again Microsoft screws everything up even when they are going in the right direction. WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE TOOLBAR FOR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES!?!?!?!?!?! I want the movies on the toolbar but no, only Americans are alowed to watch movies.

  • Andrew

    Once again Microsoft screws everything up even when they are going in the right direction. WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE TOOLBAR FOR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES!?!?!?!?!?! I want the movies on the toolbar but no, only Americans are alowed to watch movies.

  • Techblogger

    Is this new version of Bing Bar(Search box in the centre etc) only available for IE9 RC on Windows 7? I am still using Vista and I don’t yet have this update.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Requirements are:
      ■Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 3
      ■Internet Explorer 7 or later
      Not sure if the “old” Bing Toolbar will update to the Bing Bar or not. You can get it at http://toolbar.discoverbing.com/toolbar/

  • https://twitter.com/#!/HotmailAlias Hotmail Alias

    Is this new version of Bing Bar(Search box in the centre etc) only available for IE9 RC on Windows 7? I am still using Vista and I don’t yet have this update.

    • http://www.LiveSide.net Kip Kniskern – LiveSide.net

      Requirements are:
      ■Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 3
      ■Internet Explorer 7 or later
      Not sure if the “old” Bing Toolbar will update to the Bing Bar or not. You can get it at http://toolbar.discoverbing.com/toolbar/

  • http://www.sitereviewboard.com/ Elton Sites

    You don’t really need a toolbar. All you need is your browser. AS for me I use google chrome and I am complete with even only my bookmarks.

  • http://www.sitereviewboard.com/ Elton Sites

    You don’t really need a toolbar. All you need is your browser. AS for me I use google chrome and I am complete with even only my bookmarks.