Microsoft has released its latest Internet search engine, Bing. It is not taking a direct shot at Google.com, but rather is aiming for the most commercially valuable elements of Internet search. This is great news for users and the industry. The continued healthy competition between Internet search engines can only drive forward both the technology and the usefulness of the software. However, it could sound the death knell for Yahoo.
Bing is not a Google killer
Dale Carnegie, author of the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, was once quoted as saying, Any fool can criticize, complain, condemn, and most fools do. Picking your battles is impressive and fighting them fairly is essential.
In its latest search engine, Microsoft has chosen the right battle. Supported by a reported $100 million marketing campaign, the engine that replaces Live Search and which was previously codenamed Kumo is Microsofts considered response to the Google effect.
Using the best of its own technologies as developed in MSN, SharePoint and acquired tools such as those from FAST and Powerset, Microsoft has not produced a Google killer but a true Google rival.
Microsoft labels Bing as a decision engine offering a range of pertinent results from a variety of content types in response to a query.
Bing is built on serious learning
The people at FAST, which Microsoft acquired in 2008, know about attracting users to e-commerce sites. The people at Powerset, which Microsoft acquired in the same year, know about giving pertinent results through the use of semantic technologies. Therefore Bing should be impressive given the already good (but often underrated) foundation of the search engine that powers SharePoint, and the true passion for challenging Google.com that comes from Microsofts CEO Steve Ballmer.
Not a tool for everything but a really useful tool
Bing has a great range of features which Ovum will analyse in a future report, but unlike Google these do not address every area of Internet search. Rather they focus on the areas that attract most Internet advertisement revenues: shopping, local, travel and health. All four are areas that Google will also need to take action on if it is to maintain revenues.
Bing is effectively in beta (another technique that has become highly polished by Google), with the US getting all the features now and the rest of the world having a limited set. That is good. Bing features a highly useful quick preview that appears as the mouse rolls over a result and displays a preview of the page/site, identifying whether it is available. Unfortunately, at launch it was found that any results containing adult content would display a 30-second thumbnail of the content on rollover. Embarrassing when first noticed, but Microsoft has already implemented a fix.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.