Microsoft's Bing Desktop lets you search Bing quickly and easily from the desktop or taskbar without opening a browser. Bing Desktop also delivers news, weather, and even Facebook content. It keeps you current by identifying trending news, images, and videos. Bing's draggable toolbar is free of ads and junk and bears small resemblance to more obtrusive toolbars we've all encountered. Bing Desktop is for Windows XP to 8.
When setting up Bing Desktop, you can choose to make Bing your default search engine, make IE your default browser, and set your home page, among other options, though declining any or all doesn't compromise Bing Desktop's performance. Bing Desktop is essentially a toolbar, though it's no bigger or more obtrusive than the typical minimized media player. It's nicely rendered in blue tones, with search field and "Info" and "Settings" buttons above a row of icons accessing weather, top news stories, Facebook, and more. A flame icon marked the hot Trending feed, which summarizes the latest news, gossip, videos, and more in a scrolling picture panel. It'd be cool if we could filter out stuff we didn't want to see, such as celebrity gossip, but that's a quibble, not a gripe since you can easily "filter" anything you're not interested in by scrolling past it. Clicking results opened them in Bing in our default browser (not IE). Search results were returned quickly and turned up the info. we were looking for, although searching Bing alongside other engines often turns up different results, much like searches did years ago.
Bing's a good tool, although experiences with persistent desktop toolbars left us leery of trying Bing Desktop, and it didn't exactly go quietly, either, taking two passes and a leftover scan to uninstall. Still, in terms of performance, Bing Desktop is better than most, and you won't find the ad clutter you often get with free toolbars.