Microsoft's Bing search engine is stepping up its assault on Google with the introduction of a unique beta search and shopping tool called Visual Search.

The Visual Search feature offers an alternative to lists of blue links that are often delivered by search engines when researching cars, cameras, or other topics. Visual Search was announced Monday by Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president at Microsoft, at Tech Crunch 50, a tech conference being held in San Francisco.

Instead of displaying traditional lists of Web site search results Bing's Visual Search displays rows images of items that can be scrolled through via a slick interface. For example a search on Bing for handbags, Yoga poses, or movie showtimes will deliver traditional results. Now look to the left-hand side of your search results and you'll see a "Visualize" the search option. Clicking on this link takes you to the Visual Search page that allows you to scour images - not text links - to help you explore or winnow your search down fast. The tool also offers refinement options to narrow the number of images by criteria such as price, movie theater, or team (when searching for sports).

Full story: PC World