It was no secret that Microsoft was getting ready to roll out a new search engine, and today, the company began the official roll-out of Bing – the successor of the company’s less than successful Live Search efforts. Formerly known as Kumo, Bing, which should become available worldwide by June 3, is Microsoft’s latest attempt to steal market share away from Google. According to Microsoft, Bing, while providing a good general search experience, wants to focus on providing an especially good user experience in four verticals: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition, and finding a local business.
For the most part, Bing’s interface resembles that of today’s Live Search, with a large ‘cover image’ on the front page that surrounds the search box. The major difference in the user interface is the addition of guided searches in the left sidebar, though Microsoft says that the real changes are under the hood. The company argues that it can bring a new approach to Internet search by providing a richer, easier, and more organized search experience. This, for example, means that Bing will integrate data from consumer reviews when a search brings up a restaurant, for example.
Good Enough is Not Good Enough in the Search Business
According to Microsoft, “30 percent of searches are abandoned without a satisfactory result.” We haven’t been able to put Bing through its paces yet, so it remains to be seen if it actually works as well as Microsoft promises it will. We have seen too many promises in the area that have remained unfulfilled (we’re looking at you, Cuil), so we will hold back any judgment until we get to test Bing ourselves.
One thing is clear, though; a search engine that is only ‘good enough’ will not be enough to gain back any market share from Google, which now virtually controls the search engine market. Microsoft argues that this large amount of market share can make Google slow to innovate, but then, it remains to be seen if Bing can offer enough innovation to entice users to switch. Yahoo Search, after all, is also innovating furiously, but hasn’t been able to capture any new market share lately.
Rebranding Virtual Earth, Farecast, Cashback
Always happy to change brand names, Microsoft also announced that Virtual Earth, its mapping platform, will now be branded as Bing Maps for Enterprise. Travel search engine Farecast, formerly known as Live Search Farecast will now become Bing Travel, and the Live Cashback program will now be Bing Cashback.
Microsoft also launched a new site, Discover Bing, that goes into all the details of how Bing works and the decision process behind the creation of it. And if you still can’t get enough news about Bing, our friends over at CNet also feature an in-depth look at how Bing came to be.