To Bing or Not to Bing

That may be the Question

Billed as a decision support tool, Bing is the latest incarnation of Microsoft’s foray into the increasingly competitive search engine space. At a time when at least one of its peers has become a verb (as in, “just Google him”), a testament to how ingrained in the current online culture Google and by extension search engines have become, what would compel Microsoft to invest any corporate assets in yet another search tool, let alone the purported $80-100 Million for the Marketing campaign?

Microsoft is using the tag line – “When it comes to decisions that matter, Bing and Decide”. So what the heck is decision support anyway? Does Bing have the capability to automate my trusty decision making Pro/Con matrix that I invariably drag out and work and rework when I have to make a decision? Well, not really.

I will take a moment here to digress – I admit to being a dinosaur when it comes to decisions. There is something comforting in the process of analyzing each step and understanding the impact and consequences of making a decision – sort of like macaroni and cheese for the decision technophobe, relying on risk and benefits assessment with a touch of gut feeling. Why should I change my tried and true process for something that has glitz and glamour with a touch of slick marketing? And do I really want Microsoft to understand me and my needs and wants so well that they can help me make a decision?

Here is where I have to admit to being anti-Microsoft. Having survived years of Patch Tuesdays and struggled with the reality vs. the hype of all that the folks from Redmond have provided, I confess to being a skeptic for anything positive coming out of those hallowed halls. After all, haven’t they already demonstrated superiority (some may say dominance) in market share if not in product functionality? Haven’t they already made a bazillion dollars on Windows, Office, Outlook, Sharepoint, etc.? Isn’t everyone who owns or uses a computer already tethered – whether willingly or reluctantly – to the Bill Gates World in some fashion?

While I can’t possibly explain this decision from Redmond, let me attempt to provide some insight on whether you should consider supplementing, or dare I suggest, replacing your default search engine with Bing. For this, I will rely on my trusty Pro/Con chart:

Slick graphics with clean, clear presentation
Easy navigation
Online tour to help indoctrinate new users
Delivers searches by relevance vs. algorithms
Enhanced Indexing

It comes from Microsoft, need I say more
Another entrant in an already crowded field
Users have to learn a new site; many people eschew change
Search Engine Optimization strategies will need to adjust to different indexing techniques
Online/interactive marketers may experience increased costs for search and display

What Others are Saying

A Canadian technology newspaper reported that the use of has surpassed that of Google in a recent analysis by a whopping 11.7%. That’s right: produced more effective search results when compared with Google. It could be argued that novelty could account for some of the gain; is there something else there that our neighbors to the north know, other than eh? The CEO of another competitive engine posited that Microsoft may have spent more time crawling through Canadian web sites and finding ways to isolate sites interesting to Canadians. Maybe they used Hockey searches to help refine the indexing to enhance the appeal of Bing to our Canadian brethren.

So, I decided to do a head to head comparison between Bing and Google to see what the buzz was about. Since Microsoft has positioned Bing to focus on four key vertical areas (making a purchase decision, trip planning, health/medical research or finding a local business), I decided to throw them a bone and limit my searches to these areas as well.


Surprisingly, I did find Bing to return more relevant, targeted results faster and with a meta –search kind of feel. I wasn’t just delivered the standard litany of websites, but was presented with consolidated, comparative results pages that I could drill down further into to identify where I MAY decide to buy (or continue to research). And that is the key. I am still making that decision; Bing has merely sifted through the data explosion that characterizes current searches and using some intuitive tools, delivered in some cases an interim step to that elusive goal – Information.

I would expect that Google and the other ‘search engines’ will eventually leapfrog Microsoft and continue to provide enhancements to the user experience, allowing novice and experienced searchers options to assist in the search for the Holy Grail of information. Until the others catch up and surpass, however, Bing can provide some solutions to the ocean of data that accompanies a typical search.


I plan to add to my arsenal of tools that I use to search the web. I look forward to seeing what other engines are going to bring forward as a result of Microsoft’s latest contribution.

The bottom line – It’s up to you to decide if Bing is worth the Bling.