Well, Microsoft has gone ahead and launched Bing, the company's enhanced search engine that aims to help users make better decisions.
In fact, Microsoft is calling Bing, to be deployed June 3, a "Decision Engine" that is "designed to empower people to gain insight and knowledge from the Web, moving more quickly to important decisions."
And I have to say that's an impressive goal. But right off the thing that hits me is the name. I first heard of "Bing" as a possible name for the evolution of Microsoft's Live Search in a blog post by the ever-industrious Mary Jo Foley, aka MJF, in August 2008. In that post, which included three potential names for the service-Bing, Hook and Kumo-she was right on two counts, as Kumo became the code name for Bing.
In any event, I recall having debates even then about the name. Some friends said Bing was the worst choice. I felt it was the best. I liked the impact of using Bing as a verb. Because often the urge to do a Web search for something comes out of a competitive situation: "Oh, I'm wrong, huh? Well, Google it!" Now replace Google there with Kumo, or Hook, or better yet, Bing! "OK, let's Bing it! I know I'm right."
You have to like the impact of Bing as an action verb there. Well, you don't, but I do. Usually, I get into these kinds of discussions with my teenage son, who knows way more than I do, and who likes to challenge me on various points of fact. But Bing fits even better when I'm talking with old friends who used to primarily display their competitive nature on the basketball court. After an accumulation of years and pounds and atrophied skills, we are now content to compete on different levels. And this competition often leads to fact finding and Internet searches. "Did you say bring it? No, I'll go one better; I'm gonna Bing it! I'll Bing it for ya ..."
OK, let me calm down. I like the name. But I also like the idea. Microsoft plans to focus on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition and finding a local business. All good areas of focus and perfectly targeted for the sweet spots of what many folks go to a search engine for in the first place. But will Bing do enough to distinguish Microsoft from the next guy?
Moreover, the press release describing Bing said, "Microsoft identified three design goals to guide the development of Bing: Deliver great results; deliver a more organized experience; and simplify tasks and provide insight, leading to faster, more confident decisions." Again, great goals, but I need to get some hands-on time with it before I say anything about how they have done with those goals.