Tech Industry

Many users not keen on latest Microsoft Bing search test

The company is testing a new way to display Bing results -- in a separate tab or window -- among a subset of users.

Microsoft's Bing team is experimenting again with changes to the Bing search experience. And the latest test seems to be confusing and failing to win over many users -- at least based on Twitter feedback I'm seeing.

Update: The negative feedback seems to have resonated with the Bing team. A spokeswoman just sent this statement (around 2:15 p.m. ET on May 9): "We heard the feedback, and we're disabling the feature now."

Sometime over the past couple of days, Microsoft began testing a new way to display Bing results. Those who are part of the test subset are seeing the results of their search open in either a separate tab (as happens with Chrome) or an entirely new window (happening with Safari, according to some).

Microsoft officials said the change is just a test and that it is limited to the U.S. But Bing users I'm hearing from say the test is not limited to the U.S. and is happening in many other countries as well.

When I asked what was happening, I received this statement from a Microsoft spokesperson:

"We are currently testing a new homepage experience in the U.S. The Bing homepage is used by millions on a daily basis, and before we make any features permanent, they undergo intensive testing and experimentation to ensure the best possible search experience for our customers. We have nothing further to share at this time."

Microsoft conducts Bing user experience tests regularly. Sometimes the changes the Softies are testing never show up as final changes. Sometimes -- as in the case with the latest streamlined Bing results page -- they are incorporated into new releases of Microsoft's search interface.

This latest test seems to be polarizing. Some users really hate it. (I have to put myself in that group.) Others say they prefer preserving their queries and having results appear on a separate page. A few of those seeing the changes have tweeted that they wouldn't mind the change but want it to be an opt-in choice and not a default.

Speaking of defaults, I've noticed if Bing is set to be your default search engine and you type a query into the URL bar, as I do regularly, the results are not popping up in a separate page or window.

Microsoft's @Bing Twitter account is directing those with strong opinions about the new search experience to this site to submit feedback.