Microsoft Bing Goes Live Early


Microsoft hopes that Bing will allow it to claim more market share in the competitive search-engine arena, which is dominated by Google


Microsoft decided to launch its new search engine, Bing, a full two days earlier than expected.

Originally intended to roll out worldwide on 3 June, the engine was available to users by 1 June. In addition to providing a page of hyperlinks in response to a query, typical of traditional search, Bing also allows users to click on tabs for “Images,” “Videos,” “Shopping,” “News,” “Maps,” and “Travel” for a more granular search in those areas.

Bing’s “Travel” tab bears a marked resemblance to Orbitz or other travel-site dashboards, allowing users to input their prospective flight details in order to see routes and deals.

Microsoft originally announced the release of its new search engine, Bing, at the seventh annual D: All Things Digital conference in California on 28 May. At that event, Microsoft attempted to highlight how its plans for Bing went beyond traditional search, aiming to provide “intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions” and “focusing initially on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business.”

In addition, Bing incorporates a few dynamic elements into search, such as thumbnail video in the “News” and results pages that play whenever the user’s cursor drifts over them, in a manner reminiscent of Yahoo’s own search additions.

But during the D: All Things Digital conference in California last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also attempted to downplay search’s importance to his company’s overall strategy, saying that he spent “more of my time on talent.”

Bing’s name, Ballmer added, did not come from him. “I’m not the creative guy, here … short mattered … people like to ‘verb up’ … works globally, doesn’t have negative connotations.”

Bing could be Microsoft’s major hope to increase its search market-share and related financials.

“Today most advertisers buy search ads just with Google and Yahoo because Microsoft has a measly… share of searches – not enough reach to make buying search ads with MS worth the trouble,” Shar Von Boskirk, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a 28 May posting on the Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals. “Forrester expects Bing to change that.”

Even though Google claimed 64.2 percent of the U.S. core search-engine market in April 2009, according to a ComScore report, Microsoft has been aggressively battling in the space. At the moment, the company comes in third with 8.2 percent of the market, behind Yahoo with 20.4 percent.

Although some bad blood erupted between Yahoo and Microsoft in 2008 over the latter’s attempted $47.5 billion (£29.5bn) hostile buyout, recent reports suggest that Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz have talked about a partnership. At the D: All Things Digital Conference, Bartz said that she would sell Microsoft her company’s search infrastructure for “boatloads” of money.