I would guess not many of you have noticed this, since much of our audience probably regards Bing as a joke, but the team over at Bing has redesigned their search results pages. The page is now much cleaner than it once was, with a true no-nonsense feel. The only items on the page are the search results, one or two ads and a list of related searches.
In addition to cleaning up the overall design by removing all of the color splashes and by moving the related search list from the left to the right, they’ve also removed your search history and the ability to narrow your search results by time period.
Although the page’s color palette now resemble Google more than it ever has before, the actual layout of the page is much more minimal than Google’s current design. Below, I’ve included a comparison of Bing and Google. Both searches were performed within an incognito window, so I am not signed into either service. If you’re interested in more details about the redesign, you can view the official post on the Bing blog.
A few days ago, I went ahead and installed the Consumer Preview of Windows 8. To say I’m impressed would be understating things a bit. As a Windows Phone 7 user for the last 16 or 17 months, I have become extremely familiar with the metro UI, and am overjoyed to see it coming to the desktop. The whole experience so far has actually inspired me to seriously consider buying a new touch-enabled PC (my current PC is over 5 years old at this point, so it’s probably time to update anyway).
What’s Right About Windows 8?
The new interface is inspired. It’s unique, and it’s easy to use. If you’re a long-time PC user, Windows 8 will require you to entirely rethink how you use your computer; but in a good way. No longer do you have a “Desktop” (well, you do, but it’s an app within Windows 8). Instead, you have a screen full of tiles that you click or tap to open applications. All of your applications (with the exception of apps that have to run inside of the Desktop app) open fullscreen with no chrome around them. Each native app has 3 different formats: Full screen; minimal snapped; and maximum snapped.
When an app is full screen, it takes up the entire screen (duh!). Nothing else appears on the screen at all. You can bring up context menus for various actions by right-clicking (I’m not sure what the multitouch gesture is). You can then “snap” an app to the left or right of your screen. When an app is first “snapped”, it appears in a minimal state. It only takes up about a quarter of your screen’s width, leaving the other three-quarters available for another app. Then, you can open a second app to show up in the larger portion of your screen.
Want to keep an eye on the weather while surfing the Web? Snap your weather app to the left or right, and open IE in the rest of your screen. Want to keep your email visible while you’re playing PinballFX? Snap the Mail app to your screen and open up the game you want to play. If you get an important email while you’re in the middle of your game, you can either handle the email message in it’s minimal state, or you can double click the divider bar to maximize the Mail app (snapping your other active app to the other side of your screen).
I am not really a fanboy of any company (other than Sega), but I do appreciate when a company does something well. For Microsoft, there have been a few bright spots over the last few years (even if they haven’t all been commercially profitable). Among those, I’d include the Zune as the best portable media player (note, I didn’t say “handheld entertainment device”, as the Zune and the ZuneHD were basically designed to do one thing, and do it extremely well); the Xbox 360 as quite possibly the best modern gaming console (though I do love my Wii, the Kinect kind of tipped the playing field slightly in Microsoft’s favor – or so I’ve been told; I don’t own a 360, yet); and Windows Phone 7 has, as much as Android and Apple fanboys would hate to admit, somewhat revolutionized the mobile touch interface.
Do I expect to see whole-hog clones of the WP7 Metro UI, the way we did with iOS? Absolutely not; but I do suspect that we’ll see subtle changes to touch interfaces over the next year or so as a result of the way the Windows Phone OS works.
All of that said, I can’t help but wonder what the Xbox team was thinking when it came up with the pricing structure for Microsoft Points or when they integrated Netflix into the Xbox ecosystem.
I’ve had a little bit of an opportunity to play around with Internet Explorer 9, and I’m still not sure if I like it or hate it. I am excited about the possibility of natively using some CSS3 and HTML5 in Internet Explorer, but I’m also disappointed by the lack of specific CSS3 elements.
On the plus side, IE9 does support almost all of the new CSS3 pseudo-classes (nth-child(), nth-of-type(), etc.), 2D transforms, almost the entire background module (multiple background images, background-clip, background-size, etc.), border-radius (rounded corners), box-shadow and RGBA colors.
According to a new website Microsoft launched last week; currently only 2.9% of Internet users in the United States are using Internet Explorer 6. Worldwide, IE6 usage is still at 12.0%. However, only 10 of the 43 countries displayed on the chart have higher than 5% IE6 usage. Of those 10 countries, 8 are Asian nations.
Having used my HTC Surround Windows Phone 7 handset for a few months, now, I’ve come up with a few items to add to a user experience wishlist. If you have any other serious suggestions (i.e. not “make it an iPhone” or something like that), I’d be glad to hear them.