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There are two reasons why I prefer Bing over Google search. First, I found Bing to output more intelligible results than Google, particularly if you’re doing search queries for a popular topics such as “free antivirus” or “Windows 8,” and less likely to return malware-infested or illegitimate sites.
The other one, and this is primarily my main reason, is that I love looking at its background, which changes every day.
Bing backgrounds not only showcases popular tourist destinations all over the world, which is usually presented from a different point of view (such as a sundial located in London shown yesterday), but also little-known but equally enchanting places and even seemingly ordinary places such as this wooden bridge shown last July 26. Of course, the backgrounds aren’t limited only to landscapes, there are also animals in cute or silly poses, scenes of everyday life from different cultures, and one of my favorites, magnified pictures of tiny things such as pollens and planktons. The pictures were really very wondrous, I eagerly anticipate the background to be shown the next day, and I have always wanted to keep a copy of them to be used as a wallpaper for my desktop.
The quickest way of acquiring them is to go to the website and just right-click the picture and click the “Save background as…” menu then save it to your favorite location. The downside to this is that you end up with a low-resolution image file, which only has a dimension of 1366×768, not the ideal wallpaper size (which is 1920×1200). I’m not sure if the BG is dynamically resized according to your screen resolution, since I don’t have a large monitor or a graphics card capable of high resolution.
Then, near the end of April, I chanced upon an optional program in Windows Update called Bing Desktop, which is a small window that lets you perform a Bing search directly from your desktop. And it got one nifty bonus: it can download the featured Bing background and set it as the desktop wallpaper.
The installer can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.
EDIT (December 13, 2012): The link to the old installer is not available anymore because there is a newer version available (version 1.1). Get it here.
The result is great, it isn’t blurry or pixelated, and checking later, the images are sized at the standard 1920×1200 measurement.
If you want to keep the image, it takes a bit of a digging to locate the file. All downloaded images are saved as image.jpg, so once a new image is downloaded, it will automatically overwrite the previous one. If you want to retain the previous image, copy/paste the file somewhere or rename the file. But where is the downloaded image? Once you installed Bing Desktop and activated the daily image option and the background set, from the Start Menu, click “Run…” and type the following:
Explorer will open with the image.jpg, and you can now copy the file to your wallpaper directory. To avoid repeating the steps every time a new image is saved, you can just put a shortcut of image.jpg (or better yet, the themes folder) to the desktop by right-clicking the item then clicking “Send to” > “Desktop (create shortcut).” Next time when a fresh image is saved, you can just click on the shortcut to see the image.
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If you want to get old Bing images, unfortunately, you can only get pre-selected images thru several “Best of Bing” themes from the Windows Personalization Gallery (they are under Branded themes). You can actually extract the images directly from the downloaded theme file without installing the theme, just by using a file compression program, preferably 7-zip.
There’s also the Bing Dynamic Theme, which periodically downloads pre-selected Bing backgrounds.
To get you started, here are some sample images downloaded. The images are owned by Microsoft and Bing, of course. No copyright infringement is intended.