Some people refer to me as a pioneer in the computer industry. After all, I purchased a computer from Dell when Michael Dell was still assembling them in his dorm room (back then it was called PCs Limited). I wrote a software program for landscape architects called Landcadd that became the industry standard around the world. And I was an early adapter of the Google search engine when Brin and Page were still at Stanford. I was using Google when the rest of the world thought that AOL or Yahoo would control the Internet. Bottom line: I am a die-hard Google fan.

And now Google has a competitor that is throwing a lot of money at the search engine war. In June of this year, Microsoft introduced their new search engine, named Bing. And Microsoft just may have built a better search engine.

Instead of just providing a list of links to web pages, Bing’s search results page categorizes results. For example, if you type in “digital cameras” into Bing, categories are provided such as Brands, Types, Top 10 Digital Cameras, Repair, Images, Accessories, and even Shopping. Enter “garden statues” into Bing changes the categories to Types, materials, Companies, Design, Tips and Images. A search for “Italian Restaurants” brings up categories for News, Local, and Videos. Each search provides categories relevant for that search.

Bing also allows you to easily refine queries, let’s users keep track of previous queries, provides a glimpse into the web page listed, and summarizes the content of consumer and expert reviews from across the web. In the digital camera example, clicking on the Sony Digital Camera link produces a page displaying images of four popular Sony cameras, with ratings and price information for each. A click on a camera leads to a page that shows the item’s price at several e-commerce sites along with tabs for user and expert reviews and product details.

You may or may not be a Microsoft fan, but Bing is the real deal. Companies with webstores will want to optimize their sites for the way that Bing categorizes web pages. You will want to be one of the e-commerce sites that Bing displays. If you think competition is good for the marketplace, take a serious look at Bing. If Google no longer has a near-monopoly on search, paid listings should be more competitive as well. All this is good news for both website owners and internet users.