It’s not just a search engine, it’s “a decision engine,” Microsoft says. So it’s not trying to replace Google, just offer a different kind of service, one requiring fewer clicks, in some cases. “For example, if you type in the name of a city you get local weather, hotel prices and other information without having to click anywhere,” reports ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid in the San Jose Mercury News. “Bing is not only visually more attractive, it’s also more informative,” he adds. In “Bing it on,” USATODAY reports that “you can also search for images and video, with a ‘smart video preview’ that lets you peek at 30-second clips (hula dancing, Don Ho) by scrolling over the video. You can play the video from the Bing results page, no matter where on the Web it is coming from.”
To try it, just go to Bing.com. For filtered search, click on “Extras” in the extreme upper-right-hand corner, then on “Preferences.” “SafeSearch” is at the top of that page. “Moderate” filtering seems to be the default. After you’ve chosen “Strict,” “Moderate,” or “Off,” be sure to click on “Safe Settings” over on the right (and if this is on your child’s computer, you’ll probably need an accompanying rule that no one changes the setting without permission). You may want to extend the setting and rule to all search engines and household computers, but if kids (or their friends) aren’t compliant, you may need a backup plan (which sometimes means turning on filtering at the operating-system level or installing filtering software).
THIS JUST IN!: After I wrote the above about SafeSearch, Larry Magid, my ConnectSafely co-director tested it with Bing’s video search, and parents probably won’t be pleased by what he found: In video search, but with SafeSearch filtering set to “Strict,” he typed a word sure to turn up porn in the search box. “I was first warned that it ‘may return explicit adult content’ and told that ‘to view these videos, turn off SafeSearch.’ One click later, SafeSearch was off, and I was looking a page of naughty thumbnails. And, as advertised, hovering the mouse over a thumbnail started the video and audio. Even when playing in a small thumbnail, it was unmistakably hard core porn,” Larry writes in CNET.