Google forced me to try Bing (then Microsoft spoiled it all)

Have you seen Bing lately? I hadn't and it's much better than I thought. But then Microsoft just couldn't help itself to dampen the experience.

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Pretty, isn't it?

Screenshot by ZDNet

Occasionally, you just have to admit why you did something you never thought you'd do.

Here, then, is what happened.

I happened upon the tale of Google telling a European court something it thought was embarrassing.

Embarrassing for Microsoft, that is.

Google's lawyer, Alfonso Lamadrid told the court: "We have submitted evidence showing that the most common search query on Bing is, by far, 'Google,'" He added: "People use Google because they choose to, not because they are forced to."

"Oh, ho, ho," I snorted to myself. "Well, how archly arrogant of Google."

This was closely followed by: "Bing? Bing? I wonder what Bing's like these days."

Google is, of course, a verb and a habit. You go there because you go there, because that's what you do, because that's what everyone does.

Whereas Bing incites the thought: "I can't even remember the last time I looked at Bing."

I had to look it up. You can do that when you write columns. It was January 2020, when I asked both Google and Bing whether Google was better than Bing. (Answer: Shruggy-shouldered emoji.)

So when Google's lawyer came over all haughty-taughty I thought I'd take another look at Microsoft's search engine.

And what a peculiar sight. Or site.

Where Google's home page is pale tending toward Ted Williams, here was an enticing explosion of color. This was actually moving. This was welcoming. This made me want to search for things.

But first, though, it made me utter a deeply felt sound that was somewhere between a hiccup and an expectoration.

For there on the page was an instruction from Microsoft: "Switch to the latest browser recommended by Microsoft."

Regular readers will know that Microsoft's constant nagging to download its every product suffocates. It's like going out with someone on just one date and they keep texting you to wonder if you should move in together.

It's even worse when you've already downloaded the particular Microsoft product and like it, yet the company keeps nagging you to download it.

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Oh, do stop.

Screenshot by ZDNet

What was curious, though, about the latest Binged nag was that it had the Edge logo, but didn't mention the name. Could it be that some users might think Microsoft was recommending Firefox?

In any case, can you just give it a rest, Microsoft? Can you let me decide whether I even like Bing before you start to pester me with more of your desperate entreaties? (I know the answer is no, but I can still ask, surely.)

Still, I quickly filled in the search box and discovered that the results were, in large part, much more recent that I'd previously associated with Bing. In some cases they were more recent than a simultaneous, comparable search on Google.

In some cases Google was appreciably badder than Bing. (Oh, come on. I had to.)

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I drifted away heartened by Bing's look, yet annoyed by Microsoft's pestering.

A few days later, I went back to Bing. Again, the attractive home page welcome. As well as a peculiar display of stories, with headlines such as "Clipboard hits fan," "Files defamation suit" and "Alaska's fattest bear."

Is this what Microsoft thinks moves me? Silly sports stories, lawsuits and fat animals? It seems so.

Naturally, I clicked on the fattest bear story. Naturally, Microsoft began to annoy me again. This was so, so petty. But once I'd looked at the search results for Alaska's fattest bear, the back button didn't work.

It was clear Microsoft wanted me to search some more, instead of going back to the home page to look at the gorgeous scenery. This was so utterly pointless and something Google doesn't do.

I got back to the pretty home page by clicking on the Bing logo. I scrolled down some more and it really was quite absorbing. For example, stories from that particular day in history. Not one included a fat animal, though one was about a blackballed billy goat that cursed the Chicago Cubs in 1945. It could have been a large goat, I suppose.

Yet scroll to the bottom and what do you find? Another nag: "Make Bing your homepage." This was accompanied by the tender words: "Experience beauty every day."

I want to do that. I do. This is my goal in life. But not in this context: "Never miss a moment and keep search at your fingertips. Just set Bing as your browser's homepage with a few easy steps!"

Please, Bing, let me like you first. Please let's go on a third date. Then a fourth.

One day, I might fall in love with you.

One day.