Happy Belated Birthday, Bing!

Illustration for article titled Happy Belated Birthday, Bing!
Screenshot: bing

Microsoft’s Bing—a search engine that literally bribes people to use it and still (still!) can’t seem to grow its witheringly small 4 percent market share—has been around for an entire decade. As of yesterday. We forgot its birthday and seemingly so did virtually everyone else.

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The relevance of Bing is such that all but two niche tech blogs had posts prepared to commemorate 10 years of the search engine owned and operated by one of the most valuable companies in the entire world. Why should it be otherwise: Bing was seen, not long after launching, as an imitator, and accused of being a copycat outright by market leader Google.

What I did not realize until mere moments ago, is how far Bing’s homepage drifts from Google’s nearly-all-white design. It’s splashy, screen-dominating “Image of the Day” and four boxes indicating historical events from this same day in history (the first ever summiting of Mount Everest! [1953]) all scream “WELCOME TO THE INTERNET. You’re here! Isn’t it exciting!” which hits a pitch of enthusiasm that felt appropriate for AOL 2.0, but not for the social media panopticon we endure now instead.

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Illustration for article titled Happy Belated Birthday, Bing!

Did you know Bing aggregates news, too? Not especially well, though, and its headlines are seemingly compiled robotically, which results in fragments of nonsense often paired with mismatched images. “Black couple faced gun” shows a photo of an old white lady; “Lose custody of kids” would read as a bizarre command if not for its proximity to two people (celebrities?) I do not recognize. These do not point to any specific article but instead to a search—on Bing of course—saving you absolutely no time catching up on world events.

“Just as I say we welcome competition on PCs, I’m sure the market leader on search would say they welcome competition on search,” then-CEO Steve Ballmer said (while refusing to even use the name ‘Google’) in a clip allegedly originating from 2009, “and we intend to provide some.” But for god’s sake look at this website. There’s even a “fun and games” section with a 15-clue crossword and a geography quiz. Are people paid to make these? Has anyone besides me ever clicked on them? Without a doubt, Google has an unhealthy dominance over search, but I can’t imagine a company of Microsoft’s stature still considers this a competitive product trying—one which, and I can’t stress this enough, they quite literally trying to pay people to use.

Happy birthday, you dopey old thing. You’ll probably still outlive me somehow.

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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

jetstreamer
Jetstreamer

Yay, I’m a 4-percenter.

I use Bing as a first choice mostly because it is one of the few search engines that is not trying to be too smart for its own good. It mostly searches exactly for what I type, and doesn’t try to second guess me as a user. This means that for my search terms, it often has the best result as a first hit where Google often tries to “correct” my search term.

“We searched for xxxxxx instead of what you typed which was yyyyy”.
No Google, bad Google, I did not mean what YOU think I meant, I meant exactly what I typed.

But that is just me. I don’t write my search terms as sentences you use in a conversation, I still like to search for specific terms, with modifiers if needed. And Google is more about trying to serve everyone by second guessing every search term and catering to people typing website names (that they know by heart and use daily) into Google to get to the website instead of using the address bar.

The usually pretty image of the day and some minimal trivia and news that doesn’t hinder the search is nice as well. Oh, and as for the news being linked search terms... I see it as a positive as it allows you to pick your own source from the results.