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 →
Don’t tell Bill Gates that he has to use Google (GOOG). During an “Ask Me Anything” session at Reddit, the Microsoft (MSFT) cofounder praised his company’s Bing search engine as a superior alternative to Google, calling it “the better product at this point.” Gates acknowledged he was biased in favor of his own company’s products but still encouraged Reddit users to give it a chance since “the work to make Bing better has been amazing.” Gates’ praise of Bing came in response to one Reddit user who sarcastically asked, “Do you guys really use Bing? I mean seriously…” Another Reddit user chimed in to defend the Microsoft search engine by claiming that Bing is “now better than Google for porn.” ComScore’s most recent search engine rankings show that 69.1% of searches were powered by Google in December 2012 while just 25.6% of searches were powered by Bing.
Over the past few months, Microsoft (MSFT) has launched a number of anti-Google (GOOG) advertising campaigns to help move users away from Google’s services. The Redmond, Washington-based company’s latest campaign, called “Scroogled,” targets Google’s “unfair pay-to-rank shopping practices.” Microsoft notes that merchants must pay Google to be included in its Shopping service and is asking users to try Bing instead, which it claims will not “switch to a pay-to-rank” method of listing products. More →
It looks as if Microsoft’s (MSFT) efforts to dethrone Google (GOOG) as the search engine king have failed. The Internet giant’s search market share hit record highs in the month of October, accounting for 66.9% of all searches conducted in the United States. Microsoft’s efforts may have been ineffective at toppling Google thus far, but the company’s advertising campaign has helped it steal market share from other search engines. According to comScore’s most recent numbers, Bing also had a record month with a 16% share of the market. The total number of searches conducted in October increased 8% to 17.6 billion, with Google accounting for 11.8 billion compared to Microsoft’s 2.8 billion. Rounding out the top five search engines were Yahoo (YHOO), Ask (IACI) and AOL (AOL) with 12.2%, 3.2% and 1.8% shares of the market, respectively. It is worth noting, however, that the research firm does not account for mobile searches.
Don’t look now but Microsoft (MSFT), the company that cornered the market with word processing and spreadsheets, has finally become cool. According to research from YouGov, the software giant’s Bing search engine and new Windows products are making a big impression on consumers as the market research firm found that consumer perception of both Windows and Bing are at a two-year high. In fact, since right around the time when Microsoft began its massive Windows 8 and Bing advertising campaigns in mid-October, the company’s perception has risen from 17 points to 25 on YouGov’s BrandIndex Buzz scale. The brand’s perception levels were even higher among tablet owners, increasing from 23 to 33 in the same period, while Bing managed to move up 6 points for a perception rating of 16.
Yahoo’s (YHOO) decision to go with Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing as its underlying search technology hasn’t exactly upended the search engine market, and now Google (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt has publicly stated that he’s interested in breaking up the marriage between the two companies. Forbes reports that while speaking at an event to promote the Nexus 7 tablet in Japan on Monday, Schmidt said that he would love to have Yahoo switch to Google as its official search partner, years after the two companies called off talks to partner for search over fears that the government would file an antitrust suit against them. The idea of a Google-Yahoo partnership is particularly intriguing since former Google executive Marissa Mayer took over as Yahoo’s chief executive earlier this year. More →
In an ideal world, Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have the word “Bing” become synonymous with online search instead of “Google” (GOOG). But we can’t always get what we want in life, and Fast Company reports that Microsoft has acknowledged that its efforts to turn Bing into a verb have been spectacular failures. In fact, Microsoft’s attempt to match Google’s search branding power have gone so poorly that even its own employees have given up using Bing as a verb in casual conversations. More →
Microsoft (MSFT) on Thursday announced a new update to its Bing search engine that will bring deeper Facebook (FB) integration to the service. The company’s new “Friends’ Photos” feature allows users to quickly search through and locate photos belonging to their Facebook friends. “On Bing, your Facebook privacy settings are always respected,” said Ian Lin, a senior program manager for Bing. “Your Facebook friends will only be able to see the photos you have made viewable, and you will only see photos your friends have made viewable, and your photos will never be shared with the public.” This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt at socializing its search product. The company invested in Facebook and it currently provides results on Bing based on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks. More →