The search industry in getting hotter with recent launches such as Wolfram and now Microsoft’s “Bing”. Microsoft launched an ad campaign “which depicts the Google search experience as causing ‘search overload’ compared to Bing, which is a more simplistic and relevant ‘decision engine’.”
The article “Thoughts on Bing and Search Engines of the Future, From UW Computer Scientist Dan Weld” does a good job of describing what sets Bing apart.
“When you think of search, everyone thinks about Google, and maybe Yahoo, but there are many other kinds of search, like people searches (you can think about Facebook as a people search), travel search (Kayak and Expedia), health information sites. You can think about Wikipedia as providing a search for encyclopedic information. Shopping searches—Amazon is great in part because it makes it easy to find so much information about the products, and reviews of products. All of these are examples of vertical search experiences. Instead of having wide coverage, you have a better experience within a narrow range.
Bing has tried to marry those things into an integrated wide search experience. All of the engines have been doing this. If you do a search on Google for a movie, you might see information about show times and trailers at the top, for example. Bing has gone further in some directions than people have gone before, in this aspect. If you look at their tabbed pane, it lets you look at different kinds of information right there.”
“All the engines are trying to do it, but the way Microsoft has done it with Bing is somewhat better than what Google has done. With the shopping tab, you get a faceted interface, meaning you can narrow your search using categorical information, restricting yourself to a particular brand or price range. Those facets are specific to the object you’re searching.”
For factual information it really seems that Wolfram is the leader (possibly a big hit with students) but for general searches Google and Bing seem to be better solutions.