Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

Summary: I'm here to deliver the bad news to those calling for Microsoft to bong Bing. It's not happening any time soon. And here's why.


On cue, as happens after almost every quarterly Microsoft earnings report, there are a number of industry watchers calling for Microsoft to dump its money-losing Bing, along with its parent org, the Online Systems Division.

You hear it all. Selling Bing would boost the stock price! It would give Microsoft more money to spend on other purchases! It would get the Softies back to focusing on their core Windows/Office/enterprise knitting!  More here, here and here.

I'm here to deliver the bad news to those calling for Microsoft to bong Bing. In my latest column in Redmond Magazine, I itemize some of the many reasons that Bing isn't going anywhere.

What many outside Microsoft seem to forget is that Bing isn't a standalone entity. Yes, it is a search engine (one that's very slowly growing in market share). But it's a lot more than that to Microsoft. It's a technology that is being baked into products all across the company.

If Microsoft sold off Bing right now, it would be selling off one of the main features of its smartphones, its Xbox/Kinect platform -- and, in the future -- a key part of its big-data/natural-language search solution.

I don't see the Softies doing this anytime soon. Do you?

Topics: Mobility, Banking, Browser, Hardware, Microsoft, Smartphones


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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  • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

    Bing is one of the few Microsoft properties that is actually <b>gaining</b> marketshare. It would be asinine for them to sell it at this point -- especially because partnerships with Baidu and Nokia have a strong probability of growing it even further.

    If Microsoft didn't have a search engine, these people would be crowing about Microsoft not having an answer to Google.
    Rich Miles
    • Why it's gaining...

      @Rich Miles

      Bing has a deal with Yahoo to funnel some Yahoo searches to Bing.

      The default on IE is Windows Live, or Bing on recent versions. Changing it is a royal PITA for users. So many leave it as the default.

      I don't know anyone outside of our MS rep that says "I Bing'ed" something...
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon


        I 'bing' all time.
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        Yep I'm not a rep and I tell people to "bing it". One less syllable and a better search and map experience to go with it!
      • Changing the default search engine is easy in IE

        @itguy10 You prove to us once again you are not in any 'IT' field. If you don't know how to change the default search engine in a browser how the hell can you be an IT Guy?

        Here is a clue for you.

        In Internet Explorer, click Tools > Options > General (tab) > under Search click Settings, select your your desired Engine and click set as default. Apply and OK.
        Mr. Dee
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @Mr. Dee - Good lord! Under Mac OSX click the down arrow at the left of the search bar, select. Done!
        The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @The Danger is Microsoft - it's the same in IE -- Mr. Dee gave the "scenic" approach, but there's a drop arrow in the IE address/search bar for search engine selection and and management.
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @itguy10 Those who use Bing as a verb are sad geeks who think it is as cool as Google. MS should shut Bing off then kill all those who use it.
      • Guess what? In Chrome, Bing is one of the default search engines

        @itguy10 Chrome, the Google browser, has three default search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing, and switching from one to the other is really simple, go to Options / Basics / Search. There's even more: in Linux (yes I use it, too, though I really love Windows 7) when you are using Chrome go to Preferences / Basics / Search to find also those three search engines mentioned above as default. Of course you can "manage search engines" and choose your favorite one. It's not difficult, it's readily available. How do you liket it?
      • Changing your search provider in IE 9 is no big deal

        @itguy10 There's more, if you want to change your search provider in IE 9, you have to go to "Manage add-ons" / Search providers. If you don't see your favorite search engine click on "Find more search providers" link. Easy does it.
    • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

      @Rich Miles
      MS posts links to bing searches on their website and also ties in WP7 to bing (even Apple doesn't shove that down your throat) so it's not surprising that they are gaining a little. I'm not sure why you are happy about their partnership to Baidu. I believe the reason Google pulled out of China (despite gaining market share) was because the government was trying to hack their network to pull user data.
      • That's Google's public story.

        @ anono

        Google were also losing badly to Baidu. A defeat in China at the hands of an upstart like Baidu would have been bad publicity, even without a level playing field (which Google clearly didn't have). It might have raised doubts about Google's ability to hold out against other national/regional alternatives, as well as US-based rivals like Bing.

        Blaming their exit on (real) security issues was a good PR move for Google (at least outside of China), but it doesn't stop Chinese hackers targeting Google's non-Chinese systems. Indeed, by adopting a clear anti-China stance, Google are probably more likely to attract the ire of Chinese hackers than foreign firms that continue to operate in China and abide by Chinese law.

        There are many aspects of Chinese law and the Chinese state that I don't like, but trying to isolate China or behave in a hostile manner only makes political reform less likely. The best way to promote reform in China is to respect Chinese law, but respond aggressively (first in private, and only publicly as a last resort) to any violations of agreements the Chinese have entered into. I'm sure Google's management are intelligent enough to realise this.
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @anono even Apple doesn't shove that down your throat)

        Apple doesnt have a search engine do they? Or will the purchase Yahoo and the do that to safari on the iphones & i tampons?
  • What benefit do we, as consumers, see from Bing?

    If Bing were shut down tomorrow, what would the Internet search world look like a year from now? Would our Google searches suddenly stop working? Do you think Google even notices that Bing exists? Doubtful.

    We seem so focused on the concept that "competition" is good but does Bing actually compete with Google? Does WP7 actually compete against iPhone? Do Android tablets actually compete against iPad?

    Products / services that are unable to compete don't bring any of the benefits of competition that people like to list off when talking about how important competition actually is. We would probably be better off if companies simply stopped competing in areas where they make no money and they funnelled all their resources into new markets.
    • Like Apple? Why should a computer manufacturer

      bother with online music and MP3 players?
      William Pharaoh
      • Apple is a good example

        @William Pharaoh
        When Apple tries to compete, one of 2 things happen:
        1. the product is a near instantaneous success and dominates the market
        2. the product is a near instantaneous failure and Apple kills it

        When I look at the billions that MS has wasted trying to bring an iPod competitor, a Google competitor, and more recently an iPhone and iPad competitor, I just wonder if those billions couldn't have better been spent on Windows and Office. We aren't better off because of Zune, Bing, WP7, or Windows tablets so those billions have truly been wasted.

        I'm asking a bigger question here though: is ineffective competition (and I only cited a few examples, there are others) actually beneficial to consumers at all? I would argue: No. We would be better off with Apple having 100% of the tablet and smartphone markets and Google having 100% of the search market while MS gives us even better OSs than they have up until now.
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @toddybottom Zune, Bing, WP7 have made serious impacts to many people already. Xbox360 owners see zune all the time, bing is coming next. WP7 syncs to Zune. WP7 uses Bing as its search engine. Windows tablets have been in use for years, sure in niche environments, but they are seriously used. If there were no alternatives to Apple's products, then Apple would rarely upgrade their products. We need competition even if it is only 2% of the market.
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @toddybottom - why the hell was his post flagged? You MS only , NBM'ers are nuts!
        The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Why Microsoft isn't dumping Bing anytime soon

        @toddybottom Instant success like the Apple TV you mean?
      • mholmesiv: I'll agree with you there

        Apple TV is an exception, I agree. It has neither been killed, nor is it a success. I actually suspect Apple TV, at least in its current form, is going to be killed quite soon. Apple has been flailing for 2 generations in this market.

        On the other hand, as long as Apple isn't losing too much on R&D, they might simply keep AppleTV around as another lock in to the iTunes ecosystem. If getting rid of AppleTV makes iOS purchases less likely, Apple might still profit indirectly from the money it sinks into AppleTV. In other words, AppleTV simply becomes the wireless version of an HDMI cable where an iOS device is on the other end of it. Personally, I believe Apple would be wiser to simply implement DLNA but Apple isn't big on standards.

        Note that this isn't at all comparable to the money MS sinks into Bing. Bing doesn't keep people on Windows or Office. If Bing were to disappear tomorrow, Windows customers wouldn't switch to another OS because of it.