Bing: Microsoft's new search... er, decision engine

Bing: Microsoft's new search... er, decision engine

Summary: Microsoft took the wraps off the new version of its search engine -- and its new search brand, "Bing" -- at the D7 conference on May 28.


Microsoft took the wraps off the new version of its search engine -- and its new search brand, "Bing" -- at the D7 conference on May 28.

More surprising than the actual brand choice (which I first noted was under consideration in August 2008) is the way Microsoft is trying to reposition the whole search category. Microsoft is calling Bing a "decision engine" instead of a "search engine." Microsoft's reasoning: Customers are ready to move "beyond search" and Bing will help them make better decisions.

Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Bing, available at, "over the coming days." Full worldwide deployment is slated to be completed by June 3.

Like previous versions of Live Search, Bing includes various vertical search -- er, decision-making -- subcategories: Shopping, travel, healthcare and local. With the Bing launch, Microsoft is adding a new category to its vertical list: Virtual Earth maps. All of these properties are getting a Bing facelift, so the current "Farecast" travel search is now known as "Bing Travel," and Virtual Earth becomes "Bing Maps for Enterprise."

However Microsoft describes its new engine, Microsoft has nowhere to go but up in the search market. According to comScore data, the company's search-query share has barely buoyed above eight percent for the past year-plus. Google continues to completely dominate the category with more than 60 percent share. Yahoo, Microsoft's former takeover target, has weighed in with 20 percent or so.

Microsoft's previous rebrandings of its search engine (from Windows Live Search, to Live Search) didn't help matters. Nor did the fact that the majority of potential search users had no idea that Microsoft's search engine could be found by going to

Microsoft is planning to spend somewhere between $80 million and $100 million with advertising agency JWT to try to spread the word about Bing. (JWT is the same agency that last year won the bid to help try to salvage Microsoft’s “People Ready” campaign for business software.)

The company is continuing to pour multiple millions into its Online Systems Business (OSB), hoping that by throwing technology at the search problem, it will be able to out-algorithm its competitors. Last year, it acquired semantic search vendor PowerSet, and is believed to be incorporating that technology into the first iteration of Bing in an attempt to improve the quality of search results with Bing.

Microsoft is emphasizing that Bing features a number of improvements in "core search areas, including entity extraction and expansion, query intent recognition and document summarization technology as well as a new user experience model that dynamically adapts to the type of query to provide relevant and intuitive decision-making tools," according to the company's press release.

I'm curious: If you're not already a Microsoft search user, what would make you switch?  What would it take for you to "Bing it" instead of "Google it"?

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, CXO, IT Employment


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Ned? Ned Ryerson?

    • Nice

      That's what I thought too.
      • Nobody else remembers the Sopranos?

        Bada Bing, the pole dancing club? Is Bing a porn "decision" engine? Or a good place to meet with the "family"? Bing: the "family" friendly "decision" engine?

        Oh my, possibly the worst branding choice ever?
        • well, no, not really

          well, no, not really - only if you're a Sopranos obsessive. The Sopranos was a good series but Bing makes me think more of Bing Crosby and i'm not at all sure what that implies for a search engine.
          Ba ba ba boo, shoo-be-doooo

          Bing? could be good if it works out
    • It's groundhog day!

      Great connection - just like Bill Murray trying to woo Andie MacDowell,
      Microsoft tries yet again to wrest control of search from Google. They'll
      keep on trying until they finally realise how to do right, for the right
      reasons, and not for gratuitous satisfaction.

      Is this it?
      Fred Fredrickson
  • When will LG sponsor Supercross?

    Way to go Comrads. Your german humor may be buying you a beer at the local pub than out of the Coke machine at Maiche Engineering; Oh ya, I mean HRC Great Britain.

    I like the layout shown on the cover of ZDnet Magazine.
  • Microsoft Doesn't Need to Rebrand

    Bing? That has to be the stupidest name that I have ever
    heard for a product. It's even worse than the previous
    record holder: Zune.

    Microsoft's problem isn't awareness or brand building, it's
    technical merit. Windows Live search is okay, but that's
    the problem, it's only okay. If they really want to gain
    market share, they need to out-perform Google technically.
    And it doesn't need to happen in every category of search.
    If Windows Live were to become the search engine of
    choice for code development, or blog search, or images ...
    that would be a fantastic start.

    In fact, it's possible that their constant rebranding efforts
    are harming the product, not helping it. When it comes to
    search, I don't really trust the new entrants. It's only after
    time and proven success that I begin to use them
    consistently. As a brand Windows Live is fine, but how
    'bout a bit of innovation?
    Rob Oakes
    • You are right!

      You know what is funny, Windows Dead Search is not even the best place to search when you have issues with MS's own products!

      I find better info on Google! Sad but true.

      • I have found that as well

        If I need to find something on Microsoft's site I will type what I am looking for and It works well for HP, IBM and Sun as well.
        • No longer!

          Let's just say "the fat lady has not yet sung". Wait until you see the results of the *MASSIVELY IMPROVED* search engine behind Bing.

          Seriously --- give it a try when it's available next week.
    • Completely agree

      That's sort of Microsoft's problem with the Zune as well. The thing is fine, but won't make people switch from a product they are comfortable with. For people to switch to your product they need a good reason to do it. A passable alternative isn't enough.

      Also agree that rebranding doesn't always make sense. In the MP3 market is SanDisk rebranded they'd drop marketshare like crazy because it would look like another new company trying to compete instead of a name that has some credibility in the market making a new product. There are some people who like the Zune but if MS decided to drop the brand name and come out with something else instead of coming out with a next gen Zune they'd be starting from scratch again. A lot of people at least know about Windows Live and enough people either use it or come across it to be able to upgrade it instead of rebranding. It's really not that bad of a search engine and is part of their overall 'live' brand that's well recognized. Bing just sounds like another startup 'new way of searching' garbage sort of like Cuil. Just switch the name of Live Search to Live 'Decision Engine' or some crap like that and it at least doesn't totally disconnect it from a known brand.
  • RE: Bing: Microsoft's new search... er, decision engine

    I'd happily shift from Google, I distrust them and their tracking for "tailored" advertising... and Google still doesn't actually find what I'm searching for MOST of the time. If only the alternatives would perform as well, or (heaven forbid) better, I'd be out there prosletising for them. Live doesn't do that at the moment. I'm watching for an alternative to Google avidly though.
    • How

      "I'd happily shift from Google, I distrust them and their tracking for "tailored" advertising"

      And a MS search engine of course would never ever do any of those things.

      Would you be interested in a bridge I have for sale??

      • Yes, I am

        I am interested in your bridge, but the bing! search could not find you. ;)

        Seriously, I am a little concerned about Google having so much search data on everyone. I'm concerned about any corporation having so much data, especially combined with financial resources greater than many countries. When will we finally build a Max Headroom style future where corporations are more important than any government? Anyone else n-n-nervous? :)
  • Apache?

    hm,'s HTTP headers don't indicate what what OS or HTTP server it is running upon (I'd normally expect it to report Microsoft-IIS/7.0), but the 'Find out more' link points to, the HTTP headers of which read "Apache", which means either:
    *It's an ISS server just reporting to be an Apache server, to try and make it slightly harder to exploit, but Microsoft don't tend to do this with any of their other websites.
    *Or its an Apache server, which could be Windows, but tends to defeat the purpose of using Apache over IIS, so its probably Linux or Unix.
    • probably just Akami

      Microsoft frequently uses them to distribute the load for temporary spikes.
      • That's no excuse. They have the income and continual profits.

        Oops, that's just their usual way of doing things; as cheaply as possible.
  • RE: Bing: Microsoft's new search... er, decision engine

    Based on what Ballmer has said about it this is going to be THE search engine to use. I'm eagerly awaiting to make it my default search engine. It has all the features you could want and more. And there is no way that it could be worse at relevant links than its competitors.
    Loverock Davidson
    • You said <i>"I'm eagerly awaiting to make..."</i>, and you just did

      You just made a fool out of yourself, again.
      InAction Man
    • You're being too modest, M$ are the kings of worse they can outworse anyone

      they keep redefining worse, their name choosing is there to prove it.
      InAction Man