Search is a key aspect in any operating system. In Windows, search is powered by Bing, be it through the OS itself, or through Cortana in Windows 10. Bing makes it as simple as possible to get to the information you seek quickly, whether you’re searching for good restaurants to have dinner in, movies to watch, places to see, or artists to listen to.
In Windows 8.1, a feature called Bing Smart Search was hidden away behind the Start screen. To activate it, all you had to do was start typing, and Bing would bring back results from the web. This wasn’t necessarily a big feature, and I doubt many people used it regularly, but it was the execution that made me love it. The way Bing would aggregate the data and present it, I found elegant and resourceful.
Search for a person, and Bing would put together a bio of who they are, along with other useful information that you may be looking for such as their date of birth, and quick links to more information, videos that person is in, and similar people.
Search for an artist or a band, and Bing puts together more relevant information. So you get a bio, a list of people in the band, access to their most popular songs and albums that they’ve put out, in addition to quick links to more pictures and music videos.
Search for a movie, and Bing is smart enough to know that you may be looking for the contents genre, release date, cast, reviews, trailers, available sequels or prequels, and more.
Sports fan? Search for an athlete and get a look at who they are, the team they play for, their performance stats, news regarding them, and more pictures and videos of them.
Planning on visiting the tallest building in the world and want to know what it’s like? No problem, Bing will put together an address, a direct link to maps to get turn-by-turn navigation, pictures, and reviews from popular services like TripAdvisor to let you know that it’s advisable to book tickets at least one month in advance.
In Windows 10 however, the feature has been replaced with Cortana. The virtual assistant would simply redirect you to the web, where Bing would present you with something similar, but in a way that isn’t as elegant as Windows 8.1 would.
Of course, this isn’t a feature that would prevent me from upgrading to Windows 10 come July 29th. It’s not a deal-breaker. In all honestly, I find myself using the feature a lot more on my Surface than my desktop, but it’s sad to see a feature that is both functional and well-designed go away.
The feature is already showing signs of decay and abandonment. Some search results will not load images, and searches for newer movies, games, and breakthrough athletes and artists won’t work at all. With Microsoft shifting its search efforts towards Cortana and Windows 10, as well as changes to Bing online, the functionality not completely working the way it’s supposed to on Windows 8.1 doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
Do you use this feature in Windows 8.1? Do you think it should be refined and implemented in Windows 10 or are you happy with the way Cortana works in operating system? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.