Microsoft has brought its Bing search engine out of beta in the UK, despite rumours that the search results had been found insufficiently relevant to Brits
In spite of rumours that Microsoft Bing‘s UK page would remain in beta until the beginning of 2010, the company today announced its full UK roll-out of the search engine, complete with a localised homepage.
Microsoft launched the US version of Bing in May, in an attempt to challenge Google‘s dominance in the Internet search market. However, until now British users have only be able to access a beta version of the US site.
Over the last five months Microsoft’s European search technology centre has reportedly been developing a UK-centric version of the site, responding to trends in searching habits and user feedback. Bing’s new search features include categorised search, Twitter updates and visual search, designed to give users a faster, more relevant service.
“Bing is ready for the UK consumer,” said Ashley Highfield, managing director of Microsoft’s consumer and online divisions in the UK. “However, this is by no means the end of our development. We will continue to innovate and introduce new features on an ongoing basis by listening and responding to what UK search users find relevant. Removing our beta tag is merely the first step to signal Bing is here.”
A study in October found that Bing has indeed been making headway against its rival Google in the US. According to digital performance marketing company Efficient Frontier, Bing’s share of search spending grew to 5.3 percent in the third quarter, up from 4.3 percent in the second quarter, while Google spending fell from 75.5 percent to 73.7 percent during the same period.However, Bing has not been doing so well in the UK, according to analysis from Statcounter, with a market share of just 2.75 percent compared to Google’s 92.06 percent.
Highfield acknowledged that tempting users away from Google will be a tough challenge. “My objective is to get Bing up to a 10 percent share of the search market,” he told the Telegraph, “I’m not expecting to take Google’s pre-eminent position overnight, though obviously, that’s a long-term ambition … this is trench warfare.”
Microsoft has been consolidating its position in the US in recent weeks with a revamped homepage and the addition of new features, including localised news and weather, search results from Wolfram Alpha and an expanded video page. YouTube will be one provider of videos on Bing, along with Hulu, MSN Video and ABC.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Bing. Only this week a security flaw was discovered in Microsoft Bing’s Cashback service – which pays back a percentage of the purchase price of anything shoppers buy online – enabling users to pilfer large sums of money. Samir Meghani, who discovered the loophole, said “I’ve never bought anything using Bing Cashback, but the balance of my account is $2080.06.”