bing_barDuring last week’s inaugural podcast we talked about Windows Live Essentials 2011. One of the features in the suite is the Bing Toolbar. Even though none of us on the show use it (or any toolbar for that matter), it doesn’t mean the average user might not find it useful.

There are some interesting things you can do with the Bing Bar and it does allows you access to information online quickly. Here we’ll take a look at what you can expect from the Bing Bar, and hopefully provide enough information so you can make your own decision on whether you want to use it or not.

Installing the Bing Bar

Like we talked about on the podcast and showed you in our overview of Live Essentials 2011, you don’t need to install everything in the suite right away. So in this example we already have Mail and Photo Gallery & Movie Maker installed. All you need to do is run the Live Essentials installer again and select what you want.

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Here we installed it on a PC running Internet Explorer 9 Beta. Right-click an empty area at the top and select Bing Bar.

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In typical MS fashion, in IE 9 beta you’ll get a message asking if you’re sure you want to enable it. You can select Search Helper if you want to as well, then click Enable.

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Bing Bar Features

Now you’ll see the Bing Bar at the top of Internet Explorer.

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Here is a closer look at the Bing Bar features running on Internet Explorer 8. Let’s take a look at some of the features and content you can access.

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Click the News button and you get the latest headlines and can choose from different categories.

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Find out the latest weather conditions and forecast in your location and others by clicking the Weather button.

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If you’re an investor and want to keep up with the latest, you can use the Stocks feature.

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You can check out all sorts of different videos including the viral variety on different topics from Bing Video.

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The button on the bar gives you a preview of different videos you can browse, then they open up in Bing Videos where you’ll find different related videos as well.

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While there is a lot of information you can get from the default settings, you can also customize it by clicking the wrench icon in the upper right corner and have access to different types of content.

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Conclusion

While most tech geeks don’t install or use toolbars because they take up extra real estate in you browser window and use other methods for browsing, it doesn’t mean the average home user won’t find it valuable. If you’re the type of user who does light computing like email and web browsing…the Bing Bar might be the solution you’re looking for as you’ll have a centralized location to get access to information online.

If you’ve tried out the Bing Bar, leave a comment and let us know about your experience!