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MSN Live becomes Bing

But will it help Microsoft gain any ground in the Search Engine war!

At the beginning of June (09) Microsoft made a new attempt to gain ground in the ongoing Search Engine war by renaming and re-launching their contender from MSN Live Search to Bing. Although I am not 100% sure why they thought Bing was such a good name, when pressed for an answer at a conference CEO Steve Ballmer stated "We wanted something that unambiguously says search."

How ever that isn't the topic of our Blog so we will just presume they made the right choice. What I want to talk about is whether the re-branding and the reported $80 Million - $100 Million they intend to spend marketing the new Engine is going to do anything to bring them up the rankings for Best Search Engine. In the world of Search Engines there are three main competitors, Microsoft being one of them, how ever they do come in third with Yahoo in second and the as yet un-disputed champion of search Google being top dog.

Stats released from Compete (based on US users), claim that Google holds a massive 74% of the Online Search Market while Yahoo Has a healthy 16% and Microsoft's Bing trails behind with just 6.5%. So back to the question is Microsoft's Strategy enough to move them up the ranks.

The new Search Engine itself, located at bing.com has been designed to look good and be appealing to the eye as opposed to Google's extremely minimalist layout whose only graphic consists of their logo. Although to say how much more has gone into making Bing more aesthetically pleasing this doesn't seem to effect the loading time for the main page.

Bing Screen Shot

It has all the features we have come to expect from Search Engines, Web, Image, News etc, but I think the real hidden gem for Bing is that Microsoft is using technology for it's search algorithms from recently acquired PowerSet who are working on Intelligent Search, that is a Search Engine that knows what you meant.

Currently Search Engines take the words you type in and try to match them to websites they have in their Database, if it finds matches it presumes the pages are relevant and tries to order your results in what it believes to be the most relevant order to your Search Query. PowerSet's aims how ever are to develop an Engine that takes the query you input and tried to intelligently determine how you meant what you wrote, to ensure it brings up exactly what you was looking for. Unfortunately they estimate 5 to 10 years before the technology will be fully integrated and capable of producing consistent accurate results in all language formats (source BBC's Click programme).

Lastly although probably most important is, how fast is Bing in comparison to the Yahoo and Google, while after some testing I can honestly say there is not a noticeable difference between hitting enter and getting your results on Bing and doing the same on Google. If anything my opinion would be that Yahoo is actually the slowest at bringing in the results but again not by enough time that you would factor it into which Engine you used. In fact there was so little in it that I feel certain factors could totally re-order which Engine is faster at any given point or time of day.

So in conclusion I do feel Bing has the potential to come into it's own as a Search Engine offering something different. Although I think they would have to in some way prove their search algorithms produce consistently better results than both Yahoo and Google which I think is a near impossible task given how accurate the other 2 already are. So at the moment Bing in not offering me enough to stop using the browser which I have set as my homepage, and yes you guessed it, it's Google.
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