Bing (search engine)
Bing logo as of January 2016
The Bing homepage features an image or video that changes daily
Type of site
|Available in||40 languages|
|Registration||Optional (Microsoft account)|
|Launched||June 1, 2009|
Bing is a web search engine owned and operated by Microsoft. The service has its origins in Microsoft's previous search engines: MSN Search, Windows Live Search and later Live Search. Bing provides a variety of search services, including web, video, image and map search products. It is developed using ASP.NET.
Bing, Microsoft's replacement for Live Search, was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 28, 2009, at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, California, for release on June 1, 2009. Notable new features at the time included the listing of search suggestions while queries are entered and a list of related searches (called "Explore pane") based on semantic technology from Powerset, which Microsoft had acquired in 2008.
In July 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in which Bing would power Yahoo! Search. All Yahoo! Search global customers and partners made the transition by early 2012. The deal was altered in 2015, meaning Yahoo! was only required to use Bing for a "majority" of searches.
In October 2011, Microsoft stated that they were working on new back-end search infrastructure with the goal of delivering faster and slightly more relevant search results for users. Known as "Tiger", the new index-serving technology had been incorporated into Bing globally since August that year. In May 2012, Microsoft announced another redesign of its search engine that includes "Sidebar", a social feature that searches users' social networks for information relevant to the search query.
Microsoft originally launched MSN Search in the third quarter of 1998, using search results from Inktomi. It consisted of a search engine, index, and web crawler. In early 1999, MSN Search launched a version which displayed listings from Looksmart blended with results from Inktomi except for a short time in 1999 when results from AltaVista were used instead. Since then Microsoft upgraded MSN Search to provide its own self-built search engine results, the index of which was updated weekly and sometimes daily. The upgrade started as a beta program in November 2004, and came out of beta in February 2005. Image search was powered by a third party, Picsearch. The service also started providing its search results to other search engine portals in an effort to better compete in the market.
Windows Live Search
The first public beta of Windows Live Search was unveiled on March 8, 2006, with the final release on September 11, 2006 replacing MSN Search. The new search engine used search tabs that include Web, news, images, music, desktop, local, and Microsoft Encarta.
In the roll-over from MSN Search to Windows Live Search, Microsoft stopped using Picsearch as their image search provider and started performing their own image search, fueled by their own internal image search algorithms.
On March 21, 2007, Microsoft announced that it would separate its search developments from the Windows Live services family, rebranding the service as Live Search. Live Search was integrated into the Live Search and Ad Platform headed by Satya Nadella, part of Microsoft's Platform and Systems division. As part of this change, Live Search was merged with Microsoft adCenter.
A series of reorganisations and consolidations of Microsoft's search offerings were made under the Live Search branding. On May 23, 2008, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of Live Search Books and Live Search Academic and integrated all academic and book search results into regular search, and as a result this also included the closure of Live Search Books Publisher Program. Soon after, Windows Live Expo was discontinued on July 31, 2008. Live Search Macros, a service for users to create their own custom search engines or use macros created by other users, was also discontinued shortly after. On May 15, 2009, Live Product Upload, a service which allowed merchants to upload products information onto Live Search Products, was discontinued. The final reorganisation came as Live Search QnA was rebranded as MSN QnA on February 18, 2009, however, it was subsequently discontinued on May 21, 2009.
Rebrand as Bing
Microsoft recognised that there would be a problem with branding as long as the word "Live" remained in the name. As an effort to create a new identity for Microsoft's search services, Live Search was officially replaced by Bing on June 3, 2009.
The Bing name was chosen through focus groups, and Microsoft decided that the name was memorable, short, easy to spell, and that it would function well as a URL around the world. The word would remind people of the sound made during "the moment of discovery and decision making." Microsoft was assisted by branding consultancy Interbrand in their search for the best name for the new search engine. The name also has strong similarity to the word 'bingo', which is used to mean that something sought has been found or realized, as is interjected when winning the game Bingo. Microsoft advertising strategist David Webster originally proposed the name "Bang" for the same reasons the name Bing was ultimately chosen (easy to spell, one syllable, and easy to remember). He noted, "It's there, it's an exclamation point [...] It's the opposite of a question mark." This name was ultimately not chosen because it could not be properly used as a verb in the context of an internet search; Webster commented "Oh, 'I banged it' is very different than 'I binged it'".
According to the Guardian "[Microsoft] hasn't confirmed that it stands recursively for Bing Is Not Google, but that's the sort of joke software engineers enjoy." Qi Lu, president of Microsoft Online Services, also announced that Bing's official Chinese name is bì yìng (simplified Chinese: 必应; traditional Chinese: 必應), which literally means "very certain to respond" or "very certain to answer" in Chinese.
While being tested internally by Microsoft employees, Bing's codename was Kumo (くも), which came from the Japanese word for spider (蜘蛛; くも, kumo) as well as cloud (雲; くも, kumo), referring to the manner in which search engines "spider" Internet resources to add them to their database, as well as cloud computing.
On July 31, 2009, The Laptop Company, Inc. stated in a press release that it would challenge Bing's trademark application, alleging that Bing may cause confusion in the marketplace as Bing and their product BongoBing both do online product search. Software company TeraByte Unlimited, which has a product called BootIt Next Generation (abbreviated to BING), also contended the trademark application on similar grounds, as did a Missouri-based design company called Bing! Information Design.
Microsoft contended that claims challenging its trademark were without merit because these companies filed for U.S. federal trademark applications only after Microsoft filed for the Bing trademark in March 2009.
Yahoo! search deal
On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that they had made a ten-year deal in which the Yahoo! search engine would be replaced by Bing, retaining the Yahoo! user interface. Yahoo! will get to keep 88% of the revenue from all search ad sales on its site for the first five years of the deal, and have the right to sell advertising on some Microsoft sites. All Yahoo! Search global customers and partners made the transition by early 2012.
- Daily changing of background image. The images are mostly of noteworthy places in the world, though it sometimes displays animals, people, and sports. The background image also contains information about the element(s) shown in the image
- Video homepage for HTML5 enabled browsers on occasional events, similar to the daily background images
- Images page shows the main picture from that day and four searches that refers to that image with three preview pictures per search term
- Left side navigation pane. Includes navigation and, on results pages, related searches and prior searches
- Right side extended preview which shows a bigger view of the page and gives URLs to links inside of the page
- Sublinks – On certain search results, the search result page also shows section links within the article (this is also done on other search engines, including Google)
- Enhanced view where third party site information can be viewed inside Bing
- On certain sites, search from within the website on the results page
- On certain sites, Bing will display the Customer Service number on the results page
- Video thumbnail Preview – where, by hovering over a video thumbnail, the video automatically starts playing
- Image search with continuous scrolling images results page that has adjustable settings for size, layout, color, style, and people
- Advanced filters or advanced (query) operators – allow users to refine search results based on properties such as image size, aspect ratio, color or black and white, photo or illustration, and facial features recognition
- Video search with adjustable setting for length, screen size, resolution, and source
- Sports – Bing can directly display scores from a specific day, recent scores from a league or scores and statistics on teams or players.
- Finance – When entering a company name or stock symbol and either stock or quote in the search box Bing will show direct stock information like a stockchart, price, volume, and p/e ratio in a webslice that users can subscribe to.
- Conversion of units (e.g., 1 oz in tbs, 1 cup in oz)
- Mathematical calculations – (e.g., 2 *pi *24). Users can enter mathematical expressions in the search box using a variety of operators and trigonometric functions and Bing will provide a direct calculation of the expression.
- Advanced computations – Using the Wolfram Alpha computational engine, Bing can also give results to advanced mathematical problems (e.g. "lim x/2x as x->2") and other Wolfram Alpha-related queries (e.g., asking the number of calories in a typical pizza).
- Package tracking and tracing – When a user types the name of the shipping company and the tracking number, Bing will provide direct tracking information
- Dictionary – When "define", "definition", or "what is" followed by a word is entered in the searchbox Bing will show a direct answer from the Oxford English Dictionary
- Spell check – Will change frequently misspelled search terms to the more commonly spelled alternative.
- Best match (plus similar sites)
- Product shopping and "Bing cashback"
- Health information
- Flight tracking
- Translate – Auto translation of certain search phrases, often with phrases including "translate" or "in English". For example, to translate me llamo from Spanish to English the user would simply type "translate me llamo in English" and he or she would be redirected to a search results page with Bing Translator with the translation from Spanish to English
- Current traffic information
- Business listing
- People listing
- Localized searching for restaurants and services
- Localized searching for coupons and deals
- Restaurant reviews
- Movies played in an area – When a current movie title is entered in the search box Bing will provide listings of local theaters showing the movie. When a city is added to the search box, Bing provides the movie listings localized for that city.
- City hotel listings – When "hotels" and a city name is entered in the search box Bing can provide hotel listings with a map. The listing leads to a detail search page with the hotels listed that holds extended information on the hotels and contains links to reviews, directions reservations and bird-eye view of the hotel. On the page with the listings the list can be refined by settings on ratings, pricing, amenities, payment, and parking
On June 10, 2013, Apple announced that it would be dropping Google as its web search engine in favour of Bing. This feature is only integrated with iOS 7 and higher and for users with an iPhone 4S or higher as the feature is only integrated with Siri, Apple's personal assistant.
Integration with Windows 8
Windows 8.1 includes Bing "Smart Search" integration, which processes all queries submitted through the Windows Start Screen. The Bing integration captures a variety of features, one of the most prominent and advertised: Hero Search. This feature allows users to browse for popular and well-known places, objects or people. Searching France, for example, will show popular search items, such as population, calling code and date founded. The current weather and location are also directly accessible using Bing Weather and Bing maps. The "Hero" result will go further to provide attractions using Bing Images and popular websites relating to France, such as France Wikipedia and France's official website. Searching an artist will display similar results with the option to play music using the Windows 8-integrated Groove Music application.
Bing Translator is a user facing translation portal provided by Microsoft to translate texts or entire web pages into different languages. All translation pairs are powered by the Microsoft Translator, a statistical machine translation platform and web service, developed by Microsoft Research, as its backend translation software. Two transliteration pairs (between Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional)) are provided by Microsoft's Windows International team. As of August 2018, Bing Translator offers translations in 60 different language systems.
Bing Translator can translate phrases entered by the user or acquire a link to a web page and translate its entirely. When translating an entire web page, or when the user selects "Translate this page" in Bing search results, the Bilingual Viewer is shown, which allows users to browse the original web page text and translation in parallel, supported by synchronized highlights, scrolling, and navigation. Four Bilingual Viewer layouts are available: side by side, top and bottom, original with hover translation and translation with hover original.
Bing is available in many languages and has been localized for many countries. Even if the language of the search and of the results are the same, Bing delivers substantially different results for different parts of the world.
Languages in which Bing can find results
- Chinese (Simplified and Traditional scripts)
- English (American and British)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Portuguese (Portugal)
- Serbian (Cyrillic)
Languages in which Bing can be displayed
- Chinese (Simplified and Traditional scripts)
- English (American and British)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Portuguese (Portugal)
- Serbian (Cyrillic)
In addition to its tool for searching web pages, Bing also provides the following search offerings:
|Advertising||Formally known as adCenter, Bing Ads allows publishers to purchase pay per click advertising on Bing.|
|Dictionary||Bing Dictionary enables users to quickly search for definitions of English words. Bing Dictionary results are based on the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition, Bing Dictionary also provides an audio player for users to hear the pronunciation of the dictionary words.|
|Events||Bing Events allow users to search for upcoming events from Zvents, and displays the date and time, venue details, brief description, as well as method to purchase tickets for the events listed. Users can also filter the search results by date and categories.|
|Health||Bing Health refines health searches using related medical concepts to get relevant health information and to allow users to navigate complex medical topics with inline article results from experts. This feature is based on the Medstory acquisition.|
|Images||Bing Images enables the user to quickly search and display most relevant photos and images of interest. The advance filters allow refining search results in terms of properties such as image size, aspect ratio, color or black and white, photo or illustration, and facial features recognition.|
|Local||Bing Local searches local business listings with business details and reviews, allowing users to make more informed decisions.|
|Maps||Bing Maps enables the user to search for businesses, addresses, landmarks and street names worldwide, and can select from a road-map style view, a satellite view or a hybrid of the two. Also available are "bird's-eye" images for many cities worldwide, and 3D maps which include virtual 3D navigation and to-scale terrain and 3D buildings. For business users it will be available as "Bing Maps For Enterprise".|
|News||Bing News is a news aggregator and provides news results relevant to the search query from a wide range of online news and information services.|
|Recipe||Bing Recipe allow users to search for cooking recipes sourced from Delish.com, MyRecipes.com, and Epicurious.com, and allow users to filter recipe results based on their ratings, cuisine, convenience, occasion, ingredient, course, cooking method, and recipe provider.|
|Reference||Bing Reference semantically indexes Wikipedia content and displays them in an enhanced view within Bing. It also allow users to input search queries that resembles full questions and highlights the answer within search results. This feature is based on the Powerset acquisition.|
|Social||Bing Social allow users to search for and retrieve real-time information from Twitter and Facebook services. Bing Social search also provides "best match" and "social captions" functionalities that prioritises results based on relevance and contexts. Only public feeds from the past 7 days will be displayed in Bing Social search results.|
|Translator||Bing Translator lets users translate texts or entire web pages into different languages.|
|University||Bing University allow users to search for and view detailed information about United States universities, including information such as admissions, cost, financial aid, student body, and graduation rate.|
|Videos||Bing Videos enables the user to quickly search and view videos online from various websites. The Smart Preview feature allows the user to instantly watch a short preview of an original video. Bing Videos also allow users to access editorial video contents from MSN Video.|
|Visual Search||Bing Visual Search (Announced Sept 2009, deprecated – July 2012) allowed users to refine their search queries for structured results through data-grouping image galleries that resembles "large online catalogues", powered by Silverlight|
|Weather||Bing Weather allow users to search for the local weather for cities around the world, displaying the current weather information and also extended weather forecasts for the next 10 days. Weather information are provided by Intellicast and Foreca.|
|Wolfram Alpha||Bing Wolfram Alpha allow users to directly enter factual queries within Bing and provides answers and relevant visualizations from a core knowledge base of curated, structured data provided by Wolfram Alpha. Bing Wolfram Alpha can also answer mathematical and algebraic questions.|
Bing allows webmasters to manage the web crawling status of their own websites through Bing Webmaster Center. Additionally, users may also submit contents to Bing via the Bing Local Listing Center, which allows businesses to add business listings onto Bing Maps and Bing Local.
Bing Mobile allow users to conduct search queries on their mobile devices, either via the mobile browser or a downloadable mobile application.
Bing Application Programming Interface enables developers to programmatically submit queries and retrieve results from the Bing Engine. http://www.bing.com/developers
To use the Bing API developers have to obtain an Application ID, http://www.bing.com/developers/createapp.aspx
Bing API can be used with following protocols:
The Bing Bar, a browser extension toolbar that replaced the MSN Toolbar, provides users with links to Bing and MSN content from within their web browser without needing to navigate away from a web page they are already on. The user can customize the theme and color scheme of the Bing Bar as well as choose which MSN content buttons to present within the user interface. Bing Bar also displays the current local weather forecast and stock market positions.
The Bing Bar features integration with Microsoft Bing search engine. In addition to the traditional web search functions, Bing Bar also allows search on other Bing services such as Images, Video, News and Maps. When users perform a search on another search engine, the Bing Bar's search box will automatically populate itself, allowing the user to view the results from Bing, should it be desired.
Microsoft released a beta version of Bing Desktop, a program developed to allow users to search Bing from the desktop, on April 4, 2012. The initial release followed shortly on April 24, 2012, supporting Windows 7 only. With the release of version 1.1 in December 2012 it supported Windows XP and higher.
Bing Desktop allows users to initiate a web search from the desktop, view news headlines, automatically set their background to the Bing homepage image, or choose a background from the previous nine background images.
A similar program, the Bing Search gadget, was a Windows Sidebar Gadget that used Bing to fetch the user's search results and render them directly in the gadget. Another gadget, the Bing Maps gadget, displayed real-time traffic conditions using Bing Maps. The gadget provided shortcuts to driving directions, local search and full-screen traffic view of major US and Canadian cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Montreal, New York City, Oklahoma City, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.
Prior to October 30, 2007, the gadgets were known as Live Search gadget and Live Search Maps gadget; both gadgets were removed from Windows Live Gallery due to possible security concerns. The Live Search Maps gadget was made available for download again on January 24, 2008 with the security concern addressed. However around the introduction of Bing in June 2009 both gadgets have been removed again for download from Windows Live Gallery.
Before the launch of Bing, the market share of Microsoft web search pages (MSN and Live search) had been small. By January 2011, Experian Hitwise show that Bing's market share had increased to 12.8% at the expense of Yahoo! and Google. Bing powered searches also continued to have a higher "success rate" compared to Google, with more users clicking on the resulting links. In the same period, comScore’s "2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review" report showed that "Bing was the big gainer in year-over-year search activity, picking up 29% more searches in 2010 than it did in 2009". The Wall Street Journal notes the 1% jump in share "appeared to come at the expense of rival Google Inc". In February 2011, Bing beat Yahoo! for the first time with 4.37% search share while Yahoo! received 3.93%.
Marketing and advertisements
Since 2006, Microsoft had conducted a number of tie-ins and promotions for promoting Microsoft's search offerings. These include:
- Amazon's A9 search service and the experimental Ms. Dewey interactive search site syndicated all search results from Microsoft's then search engine, Live Search. This tie-in started on May 1, 2006.
- Search and Give – a promotional website launched on January 17, 2007 where all searches done from a special portal site would lead to a donation to the UNHCR's organization for refugee children, ninemillion.org. Reuters AlertNet reported in 2007 that the amount to be donated would be $0.01 per search, with a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $250,000 (equivalent to 25 million searches). According to the website the service was decommissioned on June 1, 2009, having donated over $500,000 to charity and schools.
- Club Bing – a promotional website where users can win prizes by playing word games that generate search queries on Microsoft's then search service Live Search. This website began in April 2007 as Live Search Club.
- Big Snap Search – a promotional website similar to Live Search Club. This website began in February 2008, but was discontinued shortly after.
- Live Search SearchPerks! - a promotional website which allowed users to redeem tickets for prizes while using Microsoft's search engine. This website began on October 1, 2008 and was decommissioned on April 15, 2009.
Bing's debut featured an $80 to $100 million online, TV, print, and radio advertising campaign in the US. The advertisements do not mention other search engine competitors, such as Google and Yahoo!, directly by name; rather, they attempt to convince users to switch to Bing by focusing on Bing's search features and functionality. The ads claim that Bing does a better job countering "search overload".
Bing has been heavily advertised as a "decision engine", though thought by columnist David Berkowitz to be more closely related to a web portal.
Bing Rewards provided credits to users through regular Bing searches and special promotions. These credits were then redeemed for various products including electronics, gift cards, sweepstakes, and charitable donations. Initially, participants were required to download and use the Bing Bar for Internet Explorer in order to earn credits; but later the service was made to work with all desktop browsers.
The Bing Rewards program was rebranded as "Microsoft Rewards" in 2016, at which point it was modified to only two levels, Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 is similar to 'Member' and Level 2 is similar to 'Gold' of the previous Bing Rewards.
The Colbert Report
During the episode of The Colbert Report that aired on June 8, 2010, Stephen Colbert stated that Microsoft would donate $2,500 to help clean up the Gulf oil spill each time he mentioned the word "Bing" on air. Colbert mostly mentioned Bing in out-of-context situations, such as Bing Crosby and Bing cherries. By the end of the show, Colbert had said the word 40 times, for a total donation of $100,000. Colbert poked fun at their rivalry with Google, stating "Bing is a great website for doing Internet searches. I know that, because I Googled it."
Bing was added into the list of search engines available in Opera browser from v10.6, but Google remained the default search engine. Mozilla Firefox made a deal with Microsoft to jointly release "Firefox with Bing", an edition of Firefox where Bing has replaced Google as the default search engine. The standard edition of Firefox has Google as its default search engine, but has included Bing in its list of search providers since Firefox version 4.0.
In addition, Microsoft paid Verizon Wireless $550 million USD to use Bing as the default search provider on Verizon's BlackBerry and have Verizon "turn off" (via BlackBerry service books) the other search providers available. Users could still access other search engines via the mobile browser.
Bing It On
In 2012, a Bing marketing campaign asked the public which search engine they believed was better when its results were presented without branding, similar to the Pepsi Challenge in the 1970s. This poll was nicknamed "Bing It On". Microsoft presented a study of almost 1,000 people which showed that 57% of participants in such a test preferred Bing's results, with only 30% preferring Google.
Bing censors results for "adult" search terms for some regions, including India, People's Republic of China, Germany and Arab countries where required by local laws. However, Bing allows users to change their country or region preference to somewhere without restrictions, such as the United States, United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland.
Microsoft has been criticized for censoring Bing search results to queries made in simplified Chinese characters, used in mainland China. This is done to comply with the censorship requirements of the government in China. Microsoft has not indicated a willingness to stop censoring search results in simplified Chinese characters in the wake of Google's decision to do so. All simplified Chinese searches in Bing are censored regardless of the user's country. The English-language search results of Bing in China has been skewed to show more content from state-run media like Xinhua and China Daily.
Allegedly copying Google's results
Bing has been criticized by competitor Google for utilizing user input via Internet Explorer, the Bing Toolbar, or Suggested Sites, to add results to Bing. After discovering in October 2010 that Bing appeared to be imitating Google's auto-correct results for a misspelling, despite not actually fixing the spelling of the term, Google set up a honeypot, configuring the Google search engine to return specific unrelated results for 100 nonsensical queries such as hiybbprqag. Over the next couple of weeks, Google engineers entered the search term into Google, while using Microsoft Internet Explorer, with the Bing Toolbar installed and the optional Suggested Sites enabled. In 9 out of the 100 queries, Bing later started returning the same results as Google, despite the only apparent connection between the result and search term being that Google's results connected the two.
Microsoft's response to this issue, coming from a company spokesperson, was: "We do not copy Google's results." Bing's Vice President, Harry Shum, later reiterated that the search result data Google claimed that Bing copied had in fact come from Bing's very own users. Shum wrote that "we use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt into sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users." Microsoft stated that Bing was not intended to be a duplicate of any existing search engines.
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