Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

Summary: Despite being a devotee of all things Google, I've been incredibly excited about Wolfram Alpha. I've been using it quite a bit and have its quirks and limitations pretty much down.

TOPICS: Google, Microsoft

Despite being a devotee of all things Google, I've been incredibly excited about Wolfram Alpha. I've been using it quite a bit and have its quirks and limitations pretty much down. Those limitations mean that it won't be a Google killer, but it will be especially useful to students and teachers. Given that, I was more excited about Microsoft's "decision engine," Bing, than I have been about a Microsoft product in a while. Could it combine the focused precision of Alpha with the richness of Google?

During a break tonight between working on scheduling and making some website updates (and trying to block out the tweeting of our baby chicks (a story unto itself; I'll stick with Bing for now), I pulled up Although it isn't live yet, the site features an interesting video about Bing and what it can provide searchers that other search engines can't.

Maybe it's because I can't get my hands on a live version yet. As soon as I can, I'll give it a go-round from a proper "just how well can this serve our students trying to leach meaningful information from the web" perspective. For now, though, it just looks like Google to me. Sure, it does some neat things when it senses that you want to buy something, but the ideas of getting a map when you search for a business, related searches, or predictive search are nothing new in Googleland.

Am I missing something revolutionary here? This isn't my typical anti-Microsoft, pro-Google sentiment. When I saw Alpha, I was genuinely wowed and now turn to Alpha (and point students and teachers to Alpha) when its abilities fit my needs. I didn't feel that when I watched the Bing video. I do like the idea that Bing includes credible sources, I assume drawn from the now defunct Encarta.

Ultimately, though, I'm just left with the feeling that Bing is simply a spiffed-up of Google with Microsoft tools like Expedia and Encarta working in the background. Talk back and tell me what I'm missing.

Topics: Google, Microsoft

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • RE: Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

    I would say it looks like ask and google,
    since ask has the colored backgrounds and overlapping screen widgets (like the map in the bing video)
    while google recently added the optional side menu.
    • There's a reason why Microsoft is trying it - there's no "wow" for MS

      Everyone screws up - Google has several ideas which didn't pan out - and it's not a short list. But when Google puts something for public use, there is frequently some interesting look at the look & feel. It stands on its own until enough people use it & enough articles are written.

      Google has people who have an appreciation for end-users and aesthetics. Microsoft must have them, but it's not the same.

      One of the reasons why Bing! (see: "Friends") will hurt is they don't have their primary team in place to (attempt to) have success:

      Huey, Dewey, and Louie aka Marketing, PR, and Sales. They can't always bail MS out, but it's largely the method they've used for all software. They have become what IBM once was: a battleship. It takes a long time to make a significant change in direction. (IBM was also known in the context "Beware of the Dancing Elephant".)

      One last metaphor: Microsoft has been facing the same issues which Blockbuster did when Netflix hit the world. Blockbuster chose to mimic Netflix, but just offer a lesser price. With the brick & mortar operations relying upon a certain degree of success...they finally added something which Netflix couldn't - the return of snail-mailed discs instead of sending them in.

      Financially, Blockbuster is running out of places to add red pegs ("You sank my battleship!")

      Mihi Nomen Est

    Heard just today, news media allured me to net.
    I think this innovative idea will have rave reviews
    & lapped by net savy people all over the globe, provided it leap frogs Goggle.
  • RE: Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

    Bing's compelling value proposition is that Microsoft needs money but they have had no new ideas for 15 years, so they are compelled to try to copy other people's ideas that have caught on.
    • They had a new idea 15 years ago?

      I think its been a lot more than 15 years! Fifteen to twenty years ago, there were a lot more small pc software companies they could "borrow" from or simply buy out. They have always used other's innovation, that's really the only kind they've done.
      • Yes, they invented new lows in business tactics.

        That's all though.
    • Google is hardly Original itself.

      But I guess that is before your time. You probably think the Google IS the Internet.

      I always found Altavista to be better than Google until it got spammed to death. And Google is now the same. You wouldn't believe how totally not relevant the top 3 results are any more.
  • Feasible that Bing (Live) Might Include This?

    On another part of, I've just read that MS is terminating Encarta and its associated services. Reading that right after reading this Bing blog, the timing of the Encarta thing just sort of struck me as too... convenient. Could it be that MS might be planning to incorporate the "students trying to leach meaningful information from the web? part, through some radical repackaging of the MS content formerly known as Encarta? Just an errant thought, but with MS you never know...
    • No. Encarta is just no longer relevant

      Now that most developed nations have half-decent, pretty affortable internet access, the value of an "edited encylopedia" is of dubious value. Whilst one can't trust the accuracy or validity of everything one finds on the web, much the same can be said of any encyclopedia of the past, including Britannica.
  • RE: Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

    Bing Is Not Google (hence the name BING)

    So any visual or functional similarity is accidental
    TCO .
    • Who GNU?

      Who GNU that MS could be so recursively clever and yet sadly derivative
      at the same time.

      I'm starting to wonder if there is [i]anything[/i] original here.
      Marcos El Malo
    • It stands for <b>B</b>ut <b>I</b>t?s <b>N</b>ot <b>G</b>oogle!

      And that's what most users will say in disappointment after they try it.
      InAction Man
  • Bing Badda Bing!

    Anything that functions like a search engine is going to look in many ways like Google, which is of course a search engine. Duh. The real test will be whether Bing does that job any better than Google.

    The biggest problem I have with Google is not its lack of Encarta or Kayak-like features, but the influences it allows when prioritizing results from advertisers or other parties with a financial interest in determining what I see first. Some of the influence is explicit, but a whole lot is hidden and Google users are manipulated to believe it may be what we were really searching for. I don't like this deceptive aspect of Google, so can we trust Micro$oft to not do this? Yeah, right.
    • SEO this...

      Oh yeah, google is being gamed beyond belief. By companies offering to get you on page 1, or up the rankings of by google itself pushing you down the naturals so you have to buy is adwords.

      Google results stopped being relevant when its valuation passed the $1 billion mark. At that point people were gaming Google like crazy.

      You could have the most relevant content on a particular subject. In fact, you could be the authority on it. But unless anyone links to you then the guy who is cloaking conent and has setup blogs, news pages, forums linking to their site will be above you, even if their content is trash.

    • This is very true! And it has soured me on Google.

      Also, the number of "stores" whose only purpose is to collect a
      commission by redirecting you to makes product searching
      a nightmare. Although I'm a life-long Mac user (well, since 1986), I'd
      switch to Bing in a flash if it does anything to avoid this. However, like
      ack19107, I'm not exactly holding my breath.
  • No Surprise

    MS cannot innovate, only copy, repackage then attempt to use it's monopoly to leverage a market place. There is an old joke that MS's R&D department is based in Cupertino. Don't believe me ?

    Read Alan Cooper's "The inmates are running the asylum".

    For those who don't know he wrote VB
    Alan Smithie
  • RE: Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?

    I love that the more info video needs Flash. I guess the realisation that Silverlight does not have the marketshare.
    • Fail

      On my windows 7 it opens with Silverlight. I bet they have made it prefer SL if installed and Flash as fallback.

      In my experience SL offers the better video quality. Maybe it is just because the videos offered with SL are generally higher resolution for some reason.

      Anyway, on the video codec front SL and Flash are actually converging.
    • You probably didnt have Silverlight installed

      When I opened the site with Opera on my Windows XP PC, the video was through Silverlight. Silverlight, in my experience, works pretty well for videos, better than flash. And of course, since Flash is ubiquitous, MS would have a fall back when Silverlight is not installed, rather than having to tell you to install Silverlight ( MS is not foolish enough to promote two products - Bing and Silverlight - in the same page)
  • RE: Is it just me, or does Bing look a lot like Google?