Microsoft vs Google: Bing It On

By Craig Buckler
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Microsoft BingIf you haven’t heard about Microsoft’s new search engine,, you soon will: the company plans to spend as much as $100 million on Bing advertising.

Bing is Microsoft’s latest attempt to take on Google at their own game. They have attempted it several times before, but can they succeed this time? Is Bing any good?

First, the name. According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, “the name is short, it’s easy to say, it works globally.” Perhaps he’s right. Despite the millions spent on market research, Microsoft have never been known for snappily-titled products. Names are either boring and descriptive (Internet Explorer, Word or Office) or confusing and marketing-led (Live-Wassit or Widget.NET). Bing is more of a Web2.0-startup-like name and there is little Microsoft branding.

The Web2.0 feel doesn’t end with the name. The interface is glossy, graphical, and full of effects and pop-up dialogs (unless you’re using IE6). Microsoft have attempted fun and trendy in the past, but always looked like a Dad trying to disco dance. Bing is a much better: it will appeal to kids without putting off corporate users.

Bing home page

But is searching any good? Microsoft are calling Bing a “decision engine” because it refines results more carefully and offers topics of related interest. It will recognise your search terms and offer refinements in a menu on the left. For example, enter “Star Trek” and it will offer the top results plus links to images, cast details, wallpapers, the theme tune, DVDs and episode guides. Whilst Google offers a list of 92 million links, Bing only has 52 million results but could offer more appropriate materials and related search terms.

Bing results

Interestingly, terms such as “facebook” initially return just one result: There are links to references, applications, and an embedded Wikipedia page about the site. You can expand on the results but, unlike Google, there is less reason to leave the site: something that Microsoft and their advertisers will appreciate.

Less popular terms show a Google-like list of results with sponsored links at the top and right. There are some nice touches: hover over a link and it will show you a snippet of text from the website or hover over a video and it will play a short clip immediately.

Overall, Bing has a slightly unfinished, work-in-progress feel (although it’s better than Wolfram Alpha). The US-based service is the most complete: switch to it by clicking your country name at the top-right. Region-specific versions for the UK and other locales are expected within a few weeks.

Unlike Microsoft’s previous over-ambitious claims, the company is downplaying their expectations of Bing. Their initial target is Yahoo which currently handles around twice the number of searches. But they’re not kidding anyone: Google is the competition they really want to beat. It will take time to assess whether Bing’s search results are better or worse than Google. They appear to be good – perhaps as good – but can it overcome people’s search-switching inertia?

Microsoft states that Bing will address the 40% of search queries that go unanswered. I would be interested to know how they arrived at that figure, but would Google be so dominant if users were disappointed with their search results?

What do you think of Bing? Is it good enough to take on Google or is it just another frustrated failure?

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  • Only just had a quick look now but it looks pretty good. Might try giving it a go for a while.

  • jvvlimme2

    It looks good, is blazing fast and the idea is good. As I read elsewhere about it: it is as if they stopped chasing Google and decided to look at search from a different angle. If they succeed in getting relevant and appropriated related information, I would consider using it as my primary SE.

  • shuk

    Microsoft can beat googles search results and functionality but it is very hard to beat people’s search-switching inertia.

  • henrikblunck

    There is some merit to the claims of Microsoft, actually. The Google search algorithms have had a bit too little focus on actual search results – yet too much focus on “praise” for those who partner with Adwords. In fact, you CAN score higher by implementing Adwords, thus penalizing others with better content.

    This is something users have discovered so some have begun using other search engines also. In that perspective Bing may have arrived at just the right time. :-)

    People who know me, know I rarely praise Microsoft, but I do feel people should be credited when they at least make an effort. It is a worthwhile cause and certainly a good idea to challenge Google. It COULD serve to improve Google policies & procedures, and in that light the users could be better served.

  • Chris

    I applaud any competition that improves the end-user experience but I simply don’t trust Microsoft. I am not naive, I realize that if there is money to be made by manipulating search results that anyone may (and probably will) fall to the temptation to do so. I realize that they are all collecting data on my search habits to be used to target ads to me. Here’s the catch – Google (or Yahoo or Wolfram) has never given me reason to think that they are untrustworthy. Microsoft has decades of fake grassroots movements, API manipulation that hindered competition, scores of underhanded and one-sided business deals, exposed internal emails proving they perjured in court, yada, yada, yada. Does anybody not think Ballmer wouldn’t slit his grandmother’s throat if he thought it would give him an advantage?
    Forgetting any moral objections to Microsoft I won’t use them on the basis that they have never really innovated anything – ever. How is Bing innovative? It’s not. It’s Google made prettier with some minor enhancements. It should have been called Bling. I choose to use technology that pushes the envelope on how we think and interact with technology. Microsoft has never done anything in that respect. They’ve only tried to emulate innovation in order to control and manipulate the market – never to benefit the user.

    I trust and respect Google, I trust and respect Wolfram and I will use them until such time that they break my trust or stop doing anything innovative and new.

  • JamesFarrell

    In my main niche the results are pretty poor on bing.

    I’m surprised, that they are still going after Google so directly. They should be talking to Stephen Wolfram about Wolfram|Alpha.

  • website promotion services

    Yes, I try it , nice one, perfect look, but still google is the best, hope in future it will be side by side with google


  • richthegeek

    Those search results look suspiciously like google in their stylings?

  • Cool, looks good. Nice upgrades to search, not over the top.

  • Trying Out Bing

    I tried Bing with some long tail searches in a rather technical area, and came up with commercial sites as opposed to informational links. If that’s representative of how Bing performs (as compared to even Live, let alone Yahoo! Search and Google) I won’t have much use for it.

  • JustThinking

    Not to be crude, but this engines ability to deliver relevant pornography will be one thing that could extend it’s existence. True, porno might have been responsible for the rise of the internet in the 90’s but it still possess a “magic elixer” type quality that any popular search engine (i.e. Google) would be remiss to dismiss.

  • Dylan

    just seems like a stylized google to me. I’l give it a chance, but i have no reason to switch from google. I do like the feature where it shows part of the page if you hover over it though.

    I have to say I am also one of those people that doesn’t trust Microsoft though. Google has never given me a reason not to trust them, and they always come out with innovative features I love and enjoy. It is improvement though, so in a sense “Good job microsoft.”

  • Bing’s video search is brilliant. For a video search Bing presents the results as small thumbnails. Point at a thumbnail and get a preview with sound of that video. Great feature. Far superior to Google video.

    Bing’s text and image search are about the same as Google. But the image search is less cluttered, which I also like.

    Like most people, I have had many reasons to dislike Microsoft over the years. (I use Firefox instead of IE as a sort of protest against Microsoft.) But I have to admit that the Bing video search is a winner. Try a video search for “susan boyle.” Turn on your speakers. You’ll see what I mean. The Daily Motion video I watched played within Bing. That’s convenient.

  • I’ve never really liked MSN and, but this new incarnation looks okay. From what I’ve seen, it’s quick, got a nice user interface and the “snapshot of text” thing is a nice touch. The results, however, don’t look much different than before. Are there any technological improvements or is it just a rebrand?

    I didn’t think it had an “unfinished” feel to it as you did but I suppose it could be forgiven in this regard anyway as it’s only in beta. I think it’s unfair to compare it with Wolfram|Alpha as they are, to my mind, two different things – Bing indexes/searches websites, whereas WA computes stuff.

    Whatever happened to Cuil? :s

  • unformatik

    I Google any way!


    I really don’t like the results. they have tried copy the styling. Google is the best!!

  • @ShoreDutton
    Hi. The US version is quite polished, but the UK and other locales are a different matter. I wasn’t comparing the technology to Wolfram Alpha; both sites had big launches but Bing was certainly the most successful and appears to work well from day 1.

  • Google still rocks !

  • zuneone

    As a domaineer my sites rank much highter on Bing and formerly live than the goog.

    So I am hoping Binging becomes very popular :)

  • Bing is an anacronym It stands for –


  • Peter

    Search results seems to be rather crappy. It returns free webs and web sites with a 9,891,000 ranking as top search for “how to make money” in my country.

  • Saurabh

    Its cool in looks and the idea they have use is also awesome.
    But will it work as fast as googles algorithms are working?
    Also we are waiting for its search efficiency.

  • ruba

    funny search result ..
    I try to search for “how to add url to” in both google and bing
    you can’t find the result in bing

    but it’s the first result in google

    really soooooooooo funny

  • Nana

    Bing is pretty good ! I think it is better than Google

  • Manjunath

    Look wise bing is good (as usual Microsoft will spend more money on it), but for technical search , google far better.

    Microsoft have to find some more complex algorithms to beat Google…

    Jai Ho Google

  • adimauro

    Bing isn’t bad, the interface is nice…I could definitely see using it, just not at work. Why? Because it’s been blocked! Why? Their video search lets you preview videos directly in the interface. While it’s a nice feature, it bypasses filters and there is no way to selectively block porn! So, get this…here at work they made it so if you go to Bing, it redirects to Google! I’m sure Microsoft is happy about that…

  • Rad

    I love more then cake

  • YahyaAziz

    Nice interface, uncluttered.

    You wrote “[Bing] could offer more appropriate materials and related search terms [than Google]”; I found this to be the case.

    However, I was unhappy to see that some commercial or sponsored sites appear ridiculously high in the search results, just as if they really ranked that high in popularity, with no indication that that position had been bought. What was that about trust? ;-)

    Still, a good start.

  • “Bing, of course, stands for But It’s Not Google.” — Seth Godin

  • azzman

    Bing sucks…they just have nothing better to do than just to challenge Google. Bill gates is getting old. It will never make history like the Google brothers did.It may be a good search engine but it’s just sad to see something like this happening. I got a message for the Google brothers…FIGHT BACK!!

  • Really?

    Why do the positive feedback posts on here
    sound like marketing PR? Oh, what am I paranoid
    for? Microsoft would NEVER have their employees
    seed forums with positive PR hype.

  • MauiMan2

    Google is a good overall search engine but they have done a good job of hypnotizing the general public into believing they are better than they really are. Or maybe it wasn’t Google who overhyped their services but the public put their “Google goggles” on and refused to look into anything else. I can point out a number of ways in which the Google algorithm is not perfect. This may not be exactly Google’s fault. All they can do is program their algorithm to make a really good educated guess but instead of seeing it as a good educated guess the public, in its mass Google hysteria, sees it as Godlike omniscience pointing out to them the site(s) to look at for the search terms used.

  • Brianne

    I do not like Microsoft at all. It’s for old businessmen and no lamely-named products will change that for me. I love my iPod and my MacBook and I’ll always use Google. (^_^)v

  • MauiMan2

    “I do not like Microsoft at all. It’s for old businessmen and no lamely-named products will change that for me.”

    Google’s going to become the same way. The time will come when they will be as old and bureaucratic as Microsoft. You’ve just proven my theory that Google has done a great job of hypnotizing people into believing they are the best. Then something better comes along and the people with their Google goggles stuck on proclaim, “Never! I’ll never change! I’ll always cling to Google! Just because! I’m not even entirely sure why but it’s Google for me from here to eternity!” A better option is to use a mix of different services from different providers. I actually do use Google from time to time but I don’t think anybody should cling to it (or to any other one company) as though it’s the only provider of Internet-related services in existence.

  • manish

    i like

  • CB

    I love how microsoft’s trying to compete with google. I also have gone to both websites and I agree that google is less precise but has more answers. I also like that “bing” is more attractive, a little more kid friendly, and just by saying it’s from microsoft, people realize that it has to be efficient and well working. I believe “bing” will do well and at some point throughout the next about 6-12 months it will have a chance to beat out google. I’m excited to observe what happens with this economic fight!

  • Pickle

    I’m sure that Bing works quite fine, but people (including myself) have grown..loyal, and dependent to Google. I don’t like the flashy home page, and prefer Google’s simple Logo and Text bar lay out. Another thing, in the Bing Advertisement on TV, they insinuate that Google provides too many, and obscure results. I tried Bing and received..a single result. Not enough, if you ask me. It’s pretty ballsy of Microsoft to take on Google at their own game-and I don’t like it. Google has conquered the online world, with more web pages than the population of the entire Earth. The holy-mother of all search engines. Me? I’ll stick to Google, because they are simply the best. Am I hypnotized? Maybe. Devoted, loyal and never changing Googlist? Absolutely.

  • MauiMan2

    Devoted, loyal and never changing Googlist? Absolutely.

    That’s the same attitude people had about Microsoft before everyone started complaining that they got too big.

  • Anonymous
  • 1SmartEngineer

    Eventually people do get tired of using the same system to do exactly the same thing. Remember aol, yahoo mail.
    As big as Google might think they are, they need not forget that in these days it is only a matter of time before the majority of the people are convinced that there is a better alternative.
    Besides, you can’t rely on a single stream of information forever. Additionally, Google search algorithms discriminate on certain websites which would otherwise provide relevant and helpful content.
    1ConcernedEngineer –

  • MauiMan2

    Eventually people do get tired of using the same system to do exactly the same thing. Remember aol, yahoo mail.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of “Google will eventually get old so people will have to stop using them and move to a new fad.” I just think people should be wise and not use one company’s services for everything. I still use the Netscape e-mail address I started in 1999. And I have Gmail as a backup address. And I use AOL Instant Messenger sometimes. And I like Yahoo’s front page the best and I use Yahoo’s flickr service for my photos. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Google has a right to be in business and to offer services and I think they do a great job at a lot of it. I just don’t get why it has such a cultish following, and, just like with Microsoft, if the public continues to use nothing but Google services just because it’s the hip thing to do at the moment the time is going to come when those same people complain that Google got too big.

  • giveadogabone

    I gotta say when using bing it just seemed like a flashy google. The content it praises is very similar to the contect you get from google. For example when I typed in weather on bing I get the forecast for my area which is alright except for the fact that when I do the same thing on google….I get the exact same information presented in the same fashion. A nice little forcast for my area at the top of the search results. There’s nothing cutting edge about that.Just looks like the put a pretty border around google but whos to say that bing will suprise us with all that marketing money. Look how well that approach worked for vista……

  • Monki

    It’s like google, just more flashy. I would try using more search engines to see which ones provide the best results. But “bing” is a nice name, except that its means But It’s Not Google, most likely.

  • Anonymous

    Common searches Google, Bing, Yahoo all fair more or less the same. When you get to some uncommon searches, now the difference begins to show. Google does appear to have a better relevance in its results. Yahoo has been trying to compete with Google for a while without too much success.

    The question really is, is Bing better than Yahoo. Yes, Microsoft will pour money into ad campaigns etc. Unless it is really better than Yahoo search engine, it will continue to be at No 3

  • Bing Development

    Bing is the only viable competitor to the Google search monopoly right now. forget about yahoo, Bing is at least making head way and some progress.

    Dont get me wrong, google will still be king of search for many years to come, but with bing in the marketing, google will at least have something to fight and protect for.

    if you haven’t tested out the search engines against each other, here is the a blind test i found

  • Jim S

    Bing, like Chandler Bing right? What a weird mixed up guy he was… Hey it is appropriate!