Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

Summary: Lots of reviewers, pundits and even Dancing with the Stars king Steve Wozniak already have weighed in with what they think about Microsoft's new Bing search engine. But what about Microsoft's search rivals -- and specifically its former takeover target, Yahoo?


Lots of reviewers, pundits and even Dancing with the Stars king Steve Wozniak already have weighed in with what they think about Microsoft's new Bing search engine. But what about Microsoft's search rivals -- and specifically its former takeover target, Yahoo?

Late last week, I had a chance to talk to Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Search Strategy, about his impressions. (Given that a number of industry watchers believe Bing will take search share from Yahoo more than Google, Yahoo's take on Microsoft's new engine was especially relevant, in my opinion.)

Raghavan was upfront that he had only seen Bing demos and screen shots and not actually used the Bing test site. Same here, I told him. As Microsoft has started rolling out Bing to the public today, June 1, those of us who weren't among Microsoft's chosen few now can start trying it, too.

Some pundits are expecting Bing to take search share from Yahoo more so than Google, so Yahoo officials' take on Bing is relevant. Even without having a chance to put Bing through its paces, Raghavan had some interesting observations to share.

  • Is the Powerset natural-language technology which is integrated into Bing give Microsoft a leg up over its competitors? "'Semantic' is an overloaded term," Raghavan said. He said many in the search field, from Yahoo to Google, are using statistical semantic processing, rather than the natural-language semantic processing techniques Powerset uses.
  • Microsoft is planning to do a Bing for Mobile version of its engine for mobile phones/devices, but there's been no word on when and how Microsoft plans to roll out that technology. Yahoo's approach was to start from mobile search (Yahoo oneSearch) and port that technology back to the desktop, Raghavan noted. "In other countries, there are as many or more mobile searches done than desktop searches," he said. And mobile users seldom, if ever, wnt the "ten blue links," which are often links to static documents, not live "objects" like move times, sports scores, etc.
  • At least based on last week's launch messaging, "Microsoft is saying its aim is helping users make a decision, but they are stopping short of helping them complete the task," Raghavan said. With the Bing "decision engine," Microsoft is coming closer to understanding users' intent -- say, by helping them find tickets to Star Trek -- but does Bing actually offeirng users the ability to buy those tickets without a lot of additional clicks? (It seems like the answer is no, other than when shopping specifically for products, from the few Bing searches I've tried this morning.)

  • Microsoft is making much of the user interface for Bing, with its "table of contents" style presentation of information for many common search categories. But will the company be willing to modify this user interface if it turns out that isn't how most users want to see their results, Raghavan wondered. Even though Microsoft tested Bing (then known by its codename "Kumo") among tens of thousands of its employees and other selected Live Search users, that sample is actually a fairly small one, he said. (There are lots of interesting kinds of queries that can be executed on Bing, but I don't think I would have known about them if I hadn't waded through pages and pages of documentation.)
  • Yahoo is focusing a lot of its search energies on two projects which don't seem to have direct Microsoft complements: SearchMonkey and BOSS. SearchMonkey is all about getting Web publishers to provide Yahoo with data for search listings; it's a replacement for meta tags "which were largely used by spammers," Raghavan acknowledges. BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) is Yahoo's program aimed at getting developers to build custom search engines using Yahoo's technology underneath. There are 30 million BOSS queries being done a day (none of which are counted towards Yahoo's overall search shared), compared to about 40 million Live Search queries a day, Raghavan said. Update: Microsoft officials said this figure is too low and that they have been getting four million queries per month, or more than 133 million queries a day with Live Search. Update No. 2 (June 2): Not so fast, say Yahoo officials. According to comScore's April 2009 data,  Microsoft averages 40 million queries per day or 1.208 billion per month.

How much will rebranding Live Search as "Bing" help Microsoft grow its search share? Is having a "verb-able" name like "Google" going to give Microsoft much of a leg up?

"Part of me wants to say (growing share in) search is just about branding," Raghavan said, but that's not really the case. Yahoo has become the No. 2 search player without a catchy search brand and has no intentions of spending millions to get folks to say "Let's Yahoo! search that!"

Over the coming days and weeks, it will be interesting to see what everyday users think of Bing -- and how Microsoft plans to spend that $100 million ad budget.  Readers: If and when you try out Bing, I'd be curious to hear what you think of it -- compared to Google, Live Search and Yahoo Search.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Microsoft, Mobility, Wi-Fi


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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  • After 1 day...

    I've been using Bing all day, After I changed
    my Location to the US to I didn't have to put
    up with the UK beta version, I found it an
    interesting experience.

    I generally look for technology/sharepoint
    related blogs and resources, so the new
    mapping, shopping, travel and health verticals
    weren't of much use today, that said, I found
    answers to all my questions and needs. I was
    left with a disturbing feeling though that I
    might have missed out on articles I would have
    otherwise have seen had I used google.

    As for whether it'd switch, if I continue to receive antiquate results, and if I start to
    use the cash back option, then I guess I might
    as well!
  • Bing is no Google

    • Trying it first would have made your opinion more objective. ABMers...yawn.

      • Bing is no Google - 2

        Having tried it makes my opinion very objective.

        NMBer's....many yawns.....
        linux for me
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    Bing seems nice.
    - Clean interface.
    - Quick and accurate results.
    - unobtrusive advertising.

    But it points to exactly what Microsoft's biggest problem is.
    Bing is just giving us what Google gave us 10 years ago.

    Is Microsoft now the company that delivers what Google gave us a decade ago, instead of the company that gave us what Apple did 10 years ago?

    I know there are a few features that Bing has (ie cash back stuff) that Google doesn't have. But Bing does not have Google's strong and tested API yet.

    Microsoft needs to stop being a clone of this or a clone of that.

    Microsoft needs to get back to its roots: Finding young innovative companies. Buying their stuff and re-branding it as Microsoft products!

    Seriously though, Microsoft needs to quit cloning and get back to its 1980's roots. Start being a pretty decent and competitive software company. Quit trying to rule the world.

    Take one last page from the Apple play book: Quit futzing around, make products people want to buy, sell those products and keep the profits.
    • I think their earning more than either Google or Apple so what's your point

  • My opinion

    I have just tried Bing, but I'm not very surprised. Bing isn't new, it hasn't got any innovative thing.
    RELATED SEARCHES: nothing can be useful....
    SEARCH HISTORY: it's useful, but it's against privacy...
    SUGGESTED SEARCHES(left bar): this is a good thing, but it's so bad. I believed that it will show something different to a new search. So SUGGESTED SEARCHES = RELATED SEARCHES.
    WEB RESULTS: very similar to Live Search Results.
    IMAGE AND VIDEO SEARCH ENGINE: good, easy and direct.
    MORE INFOS BAR (bar near the results): useful, but I don't think that many people will use it.
    So, I don't think that Microsoft should spend $100 million. Microsoft should improve his search engine. Again.

    PS: if you want to compare Bing and Google results go here:
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    I was pleasantly surprised when the IE8 search box directed me to Bing instead of Google yesterday morning.

    Initial feeling: it's much, much better than Live Search, and I really like the mouseover quick preview. It also finds the relevant MSDN page when I search for .NET Framework terms, like Google always has and Live Search rarely managed.

    I'm going to use it as my primary search engine for June and see how it goes.
    • Gosh, you mean IE automatically chooses Microsoft products?

      "I was pleasantly surprised when the IE8 search box directed me to Bing instead of Google yesterday morning".

      Wow. Perhaps Mozilla could cut a deal with Google so that Firefox searches are automatically pointed to Google as opposed to the user making a choice? That would be 'pleasantly surprising' for MS fan boys everywhere. Not.
  • Without a catchy brand, eh?

    I can't be the only one who remembers the giant billboards asking people "Do you Yahoo!?"

    Their advice to Microsoft is, therefore, based on experience - they tried to do that very thing and lost, spending perhaps millions in advertising in the process.
  • Well, starting to get a flood of ABMers here. Envy is really wonderful...

  • Not Impressed so far.

    Tried a simple test with my WoW Guilds website. First Bing...

    Result: Its nowhere to be seen. Lots of performance tracker websites that measure us against other guilds and a few of our guild video's on Youtube, but nothing that points direct to us.

    Now Google...

    Result: Top hit! Just where I would expect it to be.

    To get the same result on Bing I have to change the search terms to the rather verbose "nulli secundus on wildhammer eu" in order to get a hit.

    To me, it looks a little too much like Google. However, I did like the way it gave you a summary of each page in a openout to the left of each result.

    • ummmmmmm

      actually it's the first result on there
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    Exactly how relevant are these search tools in today's world anyhow? I use a search tool every week or two, usually for history/geographical info, find it with wikipedia. All else needful I can find on my own in a few clicks. So, why use a privacy-invasive search tool, full of advertising, and usually biased to someone else's taste ?
  • I've been trying Bing and I its very good

    google is still better for somethings but I like Bing
    better for what I use a SE for, most of the time.
    MS only needs Yahoo's eyes certainly not their engine.
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    bing is GREAT!!! they still have some bugs to
    work out
    but it's very good...especially for tech
    shopping...helps you find incredible
    i wish i had a long time ago

    edit: i just noticed big also searches exact
    words in the url first. for example when i type
    in The Core Theatre my website is the first on the
    list. i haven't seen that in any other search
    engine. see it here:
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    I think Bing by microsoft will shake the search engine filed a little, and we will all benefite from it later.
    I keep track on it here:
    nadin jers
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    Nice article. Bing has come along pretty well in its initial phase. I wrote an article on MS Bing which has been followed with a good discussion, please find it here
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    yes, i do agree Microsoft would like it if all netbook purchasers opted for Home Premium and paid $50+ for The problem is that W7 is going to have not one
    lingerie wholesale
  • RE: Microsoft Bing: What does Yahoo think?

    Still no absolute confirmation on what the build number will be for the RC.<a href=''>sexy lingerie</a> One thing is for sure: Windows 7, both client and server, are almost soup. (I?m still hearing this fall, most likely October, will be the official release date.)