Bing.com is Microsoft’s new search engine. But at the same time, it is not a search engine. Microsoft is touting their predecessor to Windows Live Search, their old and rather mediocre search engine, as a “decision engine.” This is possibly in direct competition with Wolfram|Alpha, the “computational knowledge engine that recently went into public beta and is supposed to answer questions posed in natural syntax. Google, in fact, also recently started a new search function, Google squared, to compete with these new engines.
This will create a very interesting dynamic in time soon to come, especially considering that two more search engines with similar natural query functionality were recently announced: Wowd and Yebol. Wowd rates pages based on what users on clicking on, rather than the spiderweb of links, and Yebol is a decision engine, much like Bing.com is described in the next paragraph. These will go into public beta this summer.
The Bing.com decision engine is focused on quickly and efficiently giving people the information for which they are searching, all of the search results page. With any given search, they will try to find the information that you are looking for and post it up on the results, which makes search more efficient, as users do not have to go into various links or search for the information themselves. The site is best at this in, as new engines usually focus, shopping, but also travel and, surprisingly, health queries. In these cases, Bing.com is able to parse the websites that show up in their results and/or go into Microsoft’s own database of information to answer the questions that it thinks you are asking. Based on my own tests, Bing.com is best at travel, and not so much at health, but it is alright at shopping.
Microsoft continues to advertise their very old cashback program, which was one of the highlights of Live: when you purchase items through their shopping website, Microsoft will pay for a small fraction (normally 1-3%) of whatever you purchase. As well, Bing.com adds side panels to search results, which may suggest other queries, related information, show your search history, etc. I don’t like these because they remove the simplicity that Google has weaned me on, but they definitely are useful.
You just have to get used to them.
Microsoft is definitely gambling a lot on this new search engine. They have been trying to beat out their rival, Google, for the search market for years, but Live search never got more than 2% of the search market share or so. In recent times, in fact, it is getting ever more important that Microsoft do get search market, as Google is gaining traction in other markets as well. Not the least of this is with their newly released Android operating system. As Google is going onto Microsoft’s turf, Microsoft must respond onto Google’s turf: and that is the origin of Bing.com.
Because of how important this is, Microsoft has dedicated an astounding $100 Million to advertising this search engine. This is an astounding number and the largest ever such campaign, if small in relation to Microsoft’s enormous stockpile of cash (on the order of 20+ billion dollars). Microsoft is not only going to use this to advertise Bing.com in print and online, but also with television commercials. The goal, they say, is to get people to question their dedication to Google and whether they are statified with their current search experience. Based on what I have seen, it just might work. Bing.com definitely has the chance that Live never had.