If you’re a fan of Microsoft Bing as your search engine, you might be interested in trying out the new Bing Bar. Today we look at this toolbar which you can add to Internet Explorer and Firefox, and offers a lot of functionality with Bing and Microsoft Live services.
Personally I am not a fan of extra toolbars in my browsers, but the Bing Bar is actually useful, especially for the Microsoft enthusiast and in IE. It lets you check your Hotmail, view news and entertainment headlines, includes Safety Center for web browsing, and more. It replaces the often useless MSN toolbar and has some interesting features.
Bing Bar Installation
When you start the installation, there are a few Additional Options you may want to not install. For instance if you don’t think Microsoft needs to know your system information or what you’re searching for, uncheck Improve my experience.
After it’s installed, you can easily start searching using their default buttons. In this example we’re looking at Business news, and the popular headlines show with a brief description and picture. You can also search Bing from the search box located at the of the window.
It allows you to customize the buttons you want to show on the bar. You can also slide them around to different positions, similar to how you can in the Taskbar in Windows 7.
It let’s you check the weather, videos, entertainment and a lot more directly from the toolbar.
You can customize it with different colors and themes to match customizations.
The Safety Center will prevent pop-ups and included Phishing protections.
It provides private browsing with the click of a button.
It makes it easy to access different services with your Windows Live account like your photos, email, and SkyDrive.
Sign in to your Live account and it will allow you to check your email messages directly from the bar.
Here is an example of how it looks in Firefox. One thing that takes getting used to is the large Bing search box. It would be nice if there were a way to resize or customize it more.
Unfortunately it installs itself into Firefox by default, so you’ll need to go into Add-ons and disable it.
The Bing Bar is a drastic improvement over the MSN Toolbar and is nicely laid out and using it is pretty fluid. One problem I noticed is sometimes it can cause your browser to load slow while it connects to the services. If you find that it’s taking up too much real estate on your screen you can always hide it, then display it when you need to use it. I didn’t find it too appealing when using Firefox but in IE it’s actually kind of neat. It’s definitely not something that everyone will want in their browser (Firefox users come to mind), but if you’re a regular user of Bing and Microsoft Live services, you might want to give it a try. It works with XP, Vista, and Windows 7. You’ll need IE 6 or later or Firefox 3.0 or later.