A year and a half after Bing introduced its visual search feature, Microsoft has finally added the functionality to its Windows search bar. Much like Google’s reverse image search — which, for the record, was introduced in 2011— the feature allows users to search the web with images rather than text-based queries.
A catch-all search — Now that visual search has been added, the Windows search bar is really a one-stop-shop for all kinds of searching needs. You can search for an app, or a document, or an answer to a question — and now you can search with images, too. Windows wants its users to use this search bar and then never, ever leave.
Search by screenshot — Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the added visual search is that it operates via screenshot. Users can click a button next to the existing search bar to open up the Windows screenshot feature. Anything captured in the screenshot is automatically entered into the search bar. Microsoft uses the example of a sofa: you see a picture of a cute one on the internet, you want to price-shop the cute sofa, you take a screenshot and Bing will tell you the rest, ostensibly within seconds.
Why did this take so long? — Image-based searches first became available last June, so it’s puzzling as to why it’s taken until the end of 2019 to port the feature to the Windows search bar. But then again, Microsoft didn’t launch its visual image search at all until a full seven years after Google introduced its reverse image search.