Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer knows that a lot of investors have their knives out for Bing and Xbox, but he’s not having any of it. GeekWire reports that in his last-ever shareholder meeting as CEO, Ballmer vigorously defended Microsoft’s search engine and game console divisions by claiming that both are an integral part of the company’s future. In particular Ballmer singled out the Xbox One as “a reflection of what is possible when a company, our company, is unified under a common vision” while also pointing out that Bing is helping Microsoft improve and enhance its other services such as its Windows Azure cloud computing platform. More →
There’s been a lot of chatter lately from former Microsoft insiders and even reportedly from prospective Microsoft CEO candidates about killing off both Xbox and Bing, two divisions within the company that have repeatedly proven to be unprofitable. Ars Technica’s Peter Bright has written a spirited defense of both divisions, however, and makes a persuasive argument that anyone who unceremoniously kills off either Bing or Xbox doesn’t have the right vision to lead Microsoft. More →
Members of Microsoft’s Bing team should get their résumés updated if Stephen Elop becomes the company’s new CEO. Unnamed sources tell Bloomberg that if Elop replaces Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s chief executive, he will consider killing off money-losing operations such as its Bing search engine and its Xbox video game console. Elop would also try to sharpen the company’s focus and would make a cross-platform Microsoft Office that works on the iPad one of his top priorities. More →
Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen isn’t the only longtime Microsoft associate who wants the company to dump Bing and the Xbox. Barron’s has flagged some more interesting details of a research note published Wednesday by Normura analyst Rick Sherlund, whom The New York Times once described as Goldman Sachs’ “point person” for its dealings with Microsoft and who is also a longtime friend of Bill Gates. What makes the note particularly interesting is that Sherlund’s advice largely mirrors that of Paul Ghaffari, the man who heads up Allen’s private investment vehicle: He wants Microsoft to get out of its unprofitable search and gaming businesses. More →
As we’ve observed recently, Microsoft has really become a tale of two companies: An unstoppable juggernaut in the enterprise cloud and software market and a comparative 90-pound weakling in a consumer electronics market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Now it seems that the top investment advisor of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has started pushing Microsoft to cut its losses in the consumer market and embrace its identity as an enterprise-centric software company. More →
Surprise! It turns out that people who take Microsoft’s “Bing it on” challenge don’t actually prefer Bing to Google by a rate of 2-to-1. Yale Law School professor Ian Ayres, writing over at Freakonomics, says that he and his students recently conducted their own third-party studies using Microsoft’s own “Bing it on” website to determine whether Internet users really did think that Bing retrieved better search results than Google when presented with a Coke/Pepsi-style “blind taste test.” The results, Ayres found, actually showed the opposite. More →
There have been few bigger money pits for Microsoft over the last several years than its attempts to compete with Google in the online search realm through Bing. Although Bing’s search market share has slowly been eating away at the market shares of smaller search engines, it still hasn’t put a dent in Google’s dominant share of the search market. What’s more, maintaining Bing has been extremely expensive for Microsoft and its Online Services Division has lost around $11 billion since 2005. More →
Microsoft has come up with a clever way to get rid of some of the millions of excess Surface RTs it has in its warehouses: It’s giving them away to schools who agree to use a safe, ad-free version of Bing as their primary search engine. As AllThingsD notes, Microsoft is telling schools that sign up for the program that they’ll have to “use a special edition of Bing that’s free of advertising and outfitted with enhanced privacy protection measures and adult-content filters” before they get free tablets. The one-two punch of pushing Bing and the Surface in schools is part of Microsoft’s broader initiative to nudge Google aside as the top search engine for educational institutions.
The good news for Microsoft: Bing’s market share has grown by two whole percentage points over the past 10 months. The bad news: It’s been taking away users from the smaller search engines and not from Google. The latest numbers from comScore show that Bing had a market share of around 18% of all searches conducted in July, up from the 16% of searches it accounted for in September 2012. However, Google held onto its market share of 67% of all searches this past July, which means that Bing’s slight rise over the past 10 months hasn’t done anything to erode Google’s dominance of the search market. Instead, smaller search engines such as Yahoo, Ask and AOL have all seen their market shares shrink from where they were 10 months ago.
We’ve known for a while that Microsoft hasn’t been very successful in its attempt to make a Bing a legitimate rival to Google but it seems the company’s willingness to lose money while propping up its online services is even deeper than we’d imagined. Business Insider’s Jay Yarow reports that Microsoft’s Online Services Division, which incorporates Bing, MSN and other web properties, has lost a whopping $10.9 billion since 2005. Yarow also notes that “there’s probably never been another company in history that has lost that much money online” while doggedly sticking by its offerings. But given that Microsoft is still a very profitable company, it is likely perfectly happy to take losses on Bing as long as it acts as a check on Google’s web dominance.
Here’s some disconcerting news for Microsoft: It may not matter how good Bing really is because most consumers will always assume it’s not as good as Google. Search Engine Land reports that a new study conducted by SurveyMonkey has found that most consumers will prefer any search results that have the Google label on top of them, even if they’re actually the search results pulled up by Bing. When given a choice between Bing search results that are labelled as Google and Google search results labeled as Bing, respondents chose the Google-labeled results by a ratio of roughly 2 to 1. When users were presented with the search results without any labels on them, Google’s lead over Bing shrinks dramatically as 57% chose Google and 43% chose Bing. The study concludes that consumers are “biased toward Google as a result of the brand,” which has been a major reason that Bing has not yet made significant inroads against it.
It seems that taking the Bing Challenge could make your computer more vulnerable to malware. PCMag reports that a new study from German independent testing lab AV-Test has found that searches conducted with Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing search engine retrieve five times as many malicious websites as searches conducted with Google. After studying around 10 million search results from each search engine, AV-Test found that Bing retrieved 1,285 malicious links while Google retrieved just 272 malicious links. Both Google and Bing were still vastly safer than Russian search engine Yandex, which returned a total of 3,300 malicious links out of 13 million search results studied.
Microsoft (MSFT) may be a bit behind Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) when it comes to creating a voice-enabled personal assistant for its mobile devices, but it seems the company does have plans to add better speech recognition capabilities to its Bing mobile app in the near future. MSFTKitchen has posted a video demonstration of a new prototype for voice recognition software on Windows Phone devices that’s intended to show how Microsoft has worked to reduce latency and word recognition errors while improving phones’ ability to accurately hear you in crowded, noisy areas. Unfortunately the demonstrators made no mention of when this software would roll out to Windows Phone users but MSFTKitchen speculates it could come as part of the Windows Blue software update coming later this year. A full video of the demonstration is posted below. More →