In case people hadn’t noticed, there is a new holy war boiling up from the land of Web search engines. Microsoft’s Bing search engine has only been public for more than a month and it is already drawing comparisons to Google’s leading search engine.
Comparisons between Google and Microsoft are not new. Users, pundits and other experts have been comparing Google Apps to Microsoft’s Office and SharePoint applications for the last few years. Microsoft has offered various iterations of Web search to counter Google for years, but no one has taken the software giant’s search overtures seriously. That is, until Bing arrived.
From the birth of Bing in June until now, it has become increasingly clear there is a new crusade afoot, something to perhaps rival the Linux versus Microsoft Windows or Firefox versus Microsoft Internet Explorer battles the world has watched evolve for the last decade or so.
The aesthetic differences are marked. Google, at 10 years old, is a stalwart of simplicity. The Google search box is as iconic as it is nondescript, bringing users 10 blue links and more. Microsoft Bing is beautiful, offering a screensaver-like background and, by most accounts so far, very much the same search experience.
Reports from StatCounter and others claims Bing has been pickingup some search market share in the United States, thanks largely to the buzz generated from Microsoft’s $80 million marketing and public relations campaign. However, Web design firm Catalyst Group found that most users were unwilling to leave the comfortable confines of Google for upstart Bing.
eWEEK readers responded passionately to these news items, weighing in not only on how they find Bing and Google, but what they think will happen to both products in the future. These readers often chose not to issue their real names, and in some cases provided no names, for their submissions so bear with the nomenclature. Anonymous Reader No. 1 wrote:
“For starters, I wouldn’t use BING if it were the only search engine left on the Internet. The fact that it came from Microsoft is reason enough for me not to use it. But that aside… curiosity did get the best of me, and I did play with it. I wasn’t a fan of the site. The relevance of the results were grossly hit and miss for me. Not only that, but the added “visual flare” only served to distract. Add to that the fact that I don’t spend large consecutive blocks of time at any given search engine. With that said, excess search engine graphics simply serve to get in the way. But that aside, people love to stick with what they know. Many of us know exactly how to coerce Google into giving us the results we want. It’s fast, it’s clean and it’s to the point. That’s why I use it over Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines out there.“
Anonymous Reader No. 2 made a reasonable rational argument… once one gets past the obvious disgust for anything Microsoft, an old, old argument that forces others to dismiss such comments out of hand. Anonymous Reader No. 2 threw Anonymous Reader No. 1’s words back into the mix:
“For starters, I wouldn’t use BING if it were the only search engine left on the Internet. The fact that it came from Microsoft is reason enough for me not to use it.” That’s because you are a BoneHead… I’ll bet you are typing on a Windows computer right now. Why? Because it’s the best OS for the money, bar none. And that includes the FREE Linux. People like to bash Microsoft because they are competitive and successful, and they make the best products. Granted, there is a lot of good Open Source software out there, but if you REALLY want to get your work done productively (sic), it’s done on Microsoft Products. And yes, I’ve used them ALL extensively. I’ve been working on and using computers since the first Apples, TI’s, Tandy’s, Commodores, etc, and I’ve tried everything else along the way.“
Anonymous Reader No. 3 also chimed in to bash Microsoft: “Microsoft needs to stop trying to catch Google and its search engine market share and concentrate on what it does best…designing PC operating Systems. Oh wait, Microsoft hasn’t been doing good there either. Oh well. There’s always Xbox!”
Microsoft Bing Beats Google; No It Doesnt, Yes It Does!
Anonymous Reader No. 4 wrote: “I give my time to anyone that does a better job. Same reason I buy Japanese cars and not American. I like Bing because of the better interface. The results are the same as Google if not better, and its (sic) pretty fast. Actually Bing looks like Office and my iPhone, which I like a lot too. I dont (sic) understand comments like the person saying they wont (sic) use it because its (sic) from Microsoft. Must be a Google employee… shame on you.”
Anonymous Reader No. 5 added: “Ummm… there are ALOT of people who wouldn’t use something just because it was from M$ [Microsoft]. Why would the person who said that have to be a google employee? I’d posit that most *nix [Unix] users and most mac users wouldn’t want to use it just because it’s from M$, and even that alot of windows users wouldn’t either, just because they use windows, doesn’t mean they want or like or are even inclined to use anything else from M$.”
Others are drawn to Bing’s travel feature, which Google lacks. Bing user wrote: “I am amazed at anyone who wouldn’t give BING a try if it is superior. I tried Google in 2000 and raved about it to all my friends. I switched and have found it’s features to be better. I just saved $100 on an upcoming trip because it’s Travel feature told me to wait 7 days…amazing.”
The crusade positions are clear. The Microsoft Bing vs. Google fight is about more than which search engine is better: It is a perception battle between Google lovers — those who believe Google can truly do no evil — and Microsoft haters — those who feel the software giant epitomizes greed in the Western world. Reader Richie summed it up:
“Bing is a quality product but it will suffer from Anti-Microsoft predjudice (sic). Even MS-Fans believe at some level Microsoft is always doing it wrong one way or another.. I like Bing, don’t love the name but I like the search engine. I have stubborn friends who won’t use it because it’s MS. They should have distanced the brand a little more.“
Anonymous Reader No. 6 confirmed this position:
“I try to avoid using Microsoft produces because I don’t like them as a company. I don’t like Apple either, so I avoid them as well. There are cases where I end up using Microsoft products, but when there is a choice I will pick products from someone else. It is just a matter of not doing business to companies I don’t like.“
The brilliant, shining irony in all of this is that Microsoft, vilified in the United States and Europe for holding a monopoly position vis-??í-vis its Windows desktop software, is the insurgent here. Yet as the incumbent, Google holds between 65 percent and 80 percent of the world’s search engine market share, depending on whose statistics one believes. Microsoft has 10 percent of the search share on a good day.
Reverse those positions for Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office and SharePoint, though you can put Microsoft’s shares in productivity and collaboration applications closer to 90 percent to 95 percent vs. Google Apps.
Questions remain: Will Bing get better, good enough to make Google lovers leap to its side? More seriously, will Google lovers eventually tire of the company’s don’t be evil rhetoric and shun the company for its increasing purview over our digital lives?
eWEEK invites you, readers, to weigh in.