Microsoft has unveiled a new visual feature for its Bing search engine that will help users find what they are looking for even if they don't know what to call it. A user can initiate a search for digital cameras, for example, by clicking on an image in the Visual Search gallery and then sorting through hundreds of products that can be narrowed down using filters – such as brand, type or megapixels – found to the left of the main screen.

Hovering over an image puts the associated search term in the search box, as well as some additional information right below it, and then clicking it takes you to the results. Of course Visual Search is not intended to become a user's first stop when looking for information, nor it will be a major driver of market share, but it's easy to see how this new feature might be helpful for a variety of topics we think of visually. Categories on Microsoft's Visual Search page include dog breeds, cars, movies, public personalities, and cities; among others.

Provider Searches (000) On-month Growth Market Share
Google 6,986,580 2.6% 64.6%
Yahoo 1,726,060 -4.2% 16.0%
Bing 1,156,415 22.1% 10.7%
AOL 333,231 1.8% 3.1%
Ask 186,270 2.9% 1.7%

The new visual search feature is one of several updates Microsoft has announced in recent months to differentiate itself from competitors and grab some additional market share. Recent figures from Nielsen suggest Bing is the fastest-growing U.S. search engine among the top 10, with a total of 1.1 billion searches in August. This translates to 10.7 percent share of the search engine market and a leap of 22.1 percent over July.