Bing Decommissioned Its Visual Search

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Microsoft/Windows independent blog, LiveSide has reported yesterday that Bing has decommissioned its Visual Search feature. However, the news seems nothing new at all, as the feature has been dropped months ago. As it turns out, no one has noticed that it has been removed from the search engine.

To be clear, the report is not talking about the traditional search that is currently available on Bing. It is all about the Visual Search tool that Microsoft’s search engine has released in 2009. The feature uses a unique Silverlight technology that enables users to view large set of images and data.

What Does Visual Search Do?

First announced in September 2009, Visual Search made an initial appearance at TechCrunch 50 Conference. It lets searchers browse easily using a slick interface of “structured data sets from trusted partners.” As described by Erik Shoenfield, a TechCrunch writer:

“For instance, if you type in ‘dog breeds,’ it organizes them for you in a grid of images that you can scroll through using a slider on the right. When you hover over a particular image, it enters the name of that dog breed in the search box. And you can re-order the image results by size, breed, exercise needs and Bing popularity.”

It initially earned a spot on the homepage search categories, under the Travel. Then it will be gone missing from the top of the navigation once the user is into Bing search results. The idea behind Visual Search is simple: Use clean imagery to enable users to sort through large sets of data easily.

It was followed by improvements in December 2010, which includes moving from Silverlight to HTML5 and promoting 111 different Visual Searches. However, the Visual Search feature no longer resolves. Other than revealing that the search tool is no longer working, a Microsoft spokesperson pointed out that the feature’s gallery has been shut down since last fall.

“Last fall, we began the process of removing Visual Search galleries on Bing. Like all of our betas, Visual Search was part of an on-going effort to better understand how we can offer the best search experience possible. We learned a lot from Visual Search beta and we’ll apply that knowledge to Bing as part of our continuing effort to help users ‘do’ more, while keeping our offerings visually appealing. This does not affect nor should be confused with Image Search that will remain a key feature to us.”

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