Here’s an amazing Stupid Search Engine Trick: typing the words “view” and “topic” in one query (or “phpbb”) into Bing will crash it.
Here’s an amazing Stupid Search Engine Trick: typing the words “view” and “topic” in one query (or “phpbb”) into Bing will crash it.
(image courtesy Within Windows)
Are you getting the impression that Microsoft is pretty proud of its tile-based, “keep-it-simple-stupid” Metro user interface, as seen in Windows Phone 7? You should. After moving both its MSDN developer site and the Microsoft Download Center to the much simpler layout, Microsoft is about to give its Bing search engine a makeover.
The tiles across the bottom of the Bing screen will show various blurbs of information including local weather, sports and traffic, as well as current trending searches. The idea follows what we’ve seen from Windows 8: that these tiles are meant to display blurbs of useful information in a visually appealing way. And it’s also well-suited for touch-screen devices.
Microsoft Bing chief Stefan Weitz made a pretty significant pronouncement in an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday: search as we know it is dead. That’s quite the statement.
In simplest terms, the old fashioned way of search results being nothing much more than a list of returned links just isn’t cutting it — a business model that’s made Google a ton of money.
Lets be fair, though: Bing isn’t that much better. In both cases the two search engines have focused their efforts on “the social,” hoping that is the answer. Google’s social search solution is +1, which gives greater weight to returned results that people in a user’s social circle may have liked. Microsoft is doing something similar, but in that case their using content culled from a friend’s Facebook stream.
Microsoft’s search site Bing just got a whole lot more social with the addition of a bunch of new Facebooky features so you can “bring the Friend Effect to search” (Bing’s phrase, not mine).
What’s the Friend Effect? According to Bing, it’s the way that “90 per cent of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process.”
While at first some of us (myself included) may have looked at Microsoft’s deal last August to power Yahoo searches with skepticism, the move may finally be paying off–and could be eating into Google’s dominance in search.
Hitwise found in March that the two sites combined now account for 30.01% of all searches in the US, up about a point and a half from the previous month. Google on the other hand dropped, moving from 66.69% to 64.42%, indicating that the people who weren’t using it were likely headed to Bing.
What’s behind this change? It could be that Microsoft’s algorithms are doing a better job at finding what searchers want. Experian Hitwise — who provided this data — found that on Yahoo and Bing, about 81 percent of all searches resulted in a visit to a website. Compare this to Google, which is significantly lower at 65 percent of all queries.
Could it really be that Bing just has a better handle on search? Sounds like Internet blasphemy (Google even accused Microsoft of stealing its search results) but that really could be the case. Microsoft has been hard at work behind the scenes making changes, and it’s clear it’s serious about becoming a player.
I’m still a Google guy, but hey technology changes fast, and that might not always be the case. Go ahead Bing, impress me…
Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan has a great post providing the clearest version to date of Bing’s side of the great Bing-Google kerfuffle. Bing still denies copying Google results–but it sounds like it all depends on the definition of “copy,” and that Bing does incorporate data from searches done on all sorts of sites, not just Google. In my first post on this I said that Bing’s behavior sounded iffy. But the weird thing is, the more that comes out, the harder it is to figure out what I think about this.
Before the whole thing dies down, I hope that Google responds at least once more time, with (A) a reaction to Bing’s explanation as provided in Danny’s story; and (B) some disclosure about whether it uses Chrome and/or the Google Toolbar to do anything even sort of similar to what Microsoft does with IE and Bing Toolbar data.
I’ve been watching the odd debate between Google and Bing executives over Bing’s alleged copying of Google search results wih an uneasy fascination. There’s an interesting question here about legitimate and illegitimate uses of clickstream monitoring to shape search results. But both sides have adopted pissy, confrontational tones that haven’t done much to clarify matters. (All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher thinks the whole affair may be a preview of the Larry Page era at Google.)
But Google engineer Matt Cutts has a new post up which I like: His points seem reasonable and he engages in no sniping or whining. I agree with him that Bing honcho Yusef Mehdi’s “We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop.” is, at best, confusing given that (A) Bing does seem to have replicated the nonsense results that Google planted as part of its sting operation; and (B) Bing representatives also seems to have defended watching IE users’ clicks on Google and mixing results based on their actions there into the gumbo of Bing’s algorithm.
At the moment, I think that Google has the edge in this tussle, mostly because it’s explained its stance more coherently and (somewhat) more politely. (Of course, reasonable people may disagree.)
If Microsoft’s stance is that it hasn’t been copying Google results (period, full stop), the best thing it could do would be to explain why that isn’t the case–in language as measured and dignified as Cutts’s. Tell us, Bingfolk: Why haven’t your actions amounted to cloning links from a competitor’s search results?
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 12:48 pm on Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I’m attending Farsight today in San Francisco. It’s an interesting conference on search, sponsored by Microsoft’s Bing but featuring participants from Google, Blekko, Wolfram Alpha, and other companies involved in the never-ending quest to make it easy to find stuff on the Web.
Oddly enough, the big news at the event doesn’t involve big news at the event–it concerns Google’s charge that Bing relays information about IE users’ Google searches back to Microsoft, which uses it to influence the results on Bing. Google confirmed the practice by running a sting operation involving “synthetic” search results for unusual searches, and says that Bing is “cheating.” Bing doesn’t deny anything, but says it’s not copying and that what it’s doing has only a minor effect on its results.
Search guru Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, who understands the implications of all this way better than I do, has an exhaustive story and promises more stuff to come. He comes to the conclusion that what Bing is doing is legal, and covered by IE’s terms of service, but that “Bing should develop its own search voice without using Google’s as a tuning fork.” Seems like a reasonable conclusion to me. And I have a hunch that Microsoft will come out of this concluding that it needs to stop doing this, for PR reasons if nothing else…
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 3:10 pm on Tuesday, November 16, 2010
In my new Technologizer column for TIME.com, I write about Google alternatives, including Bing and Blekko. I also say I’m sorry there aren’t more of them: Among both big longtime Google rivals and startups, there seems to be a widespread assumption that Google has the search-engine market locked up and investing in core search-engine technology is therefore pointless.
One of those big longtime Google rivals is Ask.com, which announced last week that it’s going to cease work on its own search engine, use one provided by an unnamed third party, and focus on its Q&A service. Yesterday, I met up with Ask CEO Doug Leeds here at the Web 2.0 Summit conference in San Francisco, and we talked a bit about the company’s change in focus.
Leeds, first of all, said that he was sorry that it didn’t make sense for Ask to continue to build its own search engine from scratch. He pointed out, accurately, that Ask had a history of doing inventive stuff that later showed up in in its larger competitors. (Parts of this 2007 Ask redesign look like a blueprint for Google and Bing in 2010.) He said that made it tough for a smaller site such as Ask to compete based on pure innovation, and factored into the company’s decision to outsource search.
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 12:57 pm on Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I’m at an event at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, where a bunch of Microsoft and Facebook executives (including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg) just finished showing some new Bing features that should start rolling out shortly. The two companies (which first established a partnership four years ago) are working together to integrate stuff Facebook knows about you and your friends into Bing search results, using Facebook’s Instant Personalization feature.
Mostly, what Bing is doing is looking at which Facebook Like buttons your buddies have clicked around the Web, then inserting a module into search results that spotlights pages they’ve given a thumbs-up. We saw examples involving searches relating to cars, San Francisco steakhouses, and the movie Waiting for Superman.
When you search for a person, Bing will also use your Facebook friendships to try and return relevant results–the example we saw involved a search for “Brian Lee” that returned a module with Brian Lees who were friends of the user’s friends.
Boy, am I glad the ridiculousness of smartphone patent wars hasn’t carried over to web search, because Google’s testing of full page previews illustrates everything that’s great about stealing another company’s ideas.
Some Google users are spotting full page previews today, according to Patrick Altoft at Blogstorm. This allows users to see important content from a website without clicking through to the link. Chunks of text containing search keywords are broken into orange boxes, and the entire page layout is visible from within Google search.
Clearly, Google ripped this feature from Bing, where page previews have been part of search since day one. So what? Bing does it differently, with simple, unobtrusive preview boxes that only draw out a few lines of text and other important details. Sometimes the imitation is better than the original, and sometimes it’s worse, but Google’s and Bing’s desire to differentiate themselves is always reflected in the product.
By Ed Oswald | Posted at 1:51 pm on Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Microsoft’s Bing has finally managed to overtake Yahoo in search share according to Nielsen. In August, Bing had a 13.9 percent share, up about .3 percent, while Yahoo dropped 1.5 percent to 13.1 percent during the same period. While its certainly a milestone for the company, in the end does it matter?
Yahoo’s search engine is now powered by Bing, so essentially the two sites are now one in the same. So in other words, Bing’s got 27 percent of the market now. Now add July’s numbers together, and you can see that together they’ve actually lost share.
So where did this share go? Some of it has gone to Google: the company saw its share rise .8 percent to 65 percent of the market, meaning that the much ballyhooed Yahoo+Bing deal isn’t doing quite what it should. Is it cause to worry for Yahoo and Microsoft? I’d argue at this point no, but the companies better hope that things turn around.
“Bing is on an unequivocal roll. It’s no longer a question of whether or not Bing will continue to grow share but one of where will future growth come from,” my colleague Joe Wilcox writes over at Betanews. “Microsoft loses by taking share from Yahoo. The gains that matter must come from Google.”
I agree with Joe — Bing cannot really celebrate these numbers because they aren’t all that positive at face value. Certainly, Bing has upward momentum, but at the same time it almost has to cheer for its competitor to at least tread water because in the end its Google that’s in its sights in the battle for search engine dominance.
When Microsoft started offering sizable kickbacks to people who used its Windows Live shopping features to buy stuff–via a feature called Live Search Cashback which later turned into Bing Cashback–I was instinctively skeptical. It sounded kind of like bribery, and the process of finding deals and collecting your rebate involved jumping through multiple hoops.
And then I decided to invest a sizable chunk of change in a Nikon D90 SLR, a camera that tends to cost about the same no matter which (reputable) dealer you buy it from. I bought one using Bing Cashback and got a crazy-good Cashback deal that saved me $150. Boom–no more skepticism. A hundred and fifty bucks felt like more-than-adequate compensation for the effort involved.
But now Microsoft is saying that Cashback is going away:
In lots of ways, this was a great feature – we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for.
I’m sorry to see it go–and glad to see Microsoft being up-front about its rationale for shuttering it.
[NOTE: Here’s another story I wrote for FoxNews.com. This one’s on cool ways to find information that go beyond Google, and mentions Aardvark.I wrote it last Monday and it was was published on Tuesday–and on Thursday, TechCrunch broke the news that Google was buying Aardvark.)
How much do I love Google? Thanks to the stats provided by Google Web History, it’s easy to quantify: Over the past four and a half years, I’ve Googled for information 43,295 times. That works out to about one search per hour, 24/7/365. If that doesn’t indicate passion for the world’s most popular search engine, I don’t know what does.
But I’d never argue that Google is always the fastest, most effective way to find facts, seek advice, take actions, or simply satisfy your curiosity about the world around you. Actually, there are more viable Google alternatives than ever. For the most part, they don’t compete by trying to out-Google Google at basic Web searching. Instead, they do useful things that Google doesn’t.
I’m nowhere near as dependent on any of these five free services as I am on Google — but I use and recommend them all.
It’s no secret that Apple and Microsoft have one of the stranger relationships in tech. While Microsoft has produced software such as Office for the Macintosh platform, and Apple has opened its doors to Windows with its switch to Intel, they still are highly competitive with each other. But Cupertino’s relationship with Google is souring far faster, which is the perfect opening for Microsoft when it comes to the iPhone.
Apple is apparently in discussions with Microsoft to give the Bing search engine the top spot for search on iPhone, which currently belongs to Google. These talks have been underway for several weeks, BusinessWeek reports, but nothing as of yet has been finalized.
Getting on the iPhone as the default search engine would be a huge win for Bing. I regularly search for things on my iPhone, so just the boost there in search queries would help Microsoft overall in gaining some search share, something it sorely needs. It’s not clear whether any search deal would also extend to the Safari browser, available on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms.
Either way, its pretty likely that Google wouldn’t be completely erased from the iPhone. YouTube is a popular application. Apple would probably also let users switch back to Google in settings just like it already does now if users wish to search using Yahoo. Bing Maps could replace Google Maps, however.
What are your thoughts on the increasingly hostile relationship between Apple and Google? Who stands to benefit most here? We’d like to hear what you think.