Bing (search engine)

Bing logo
Bing Homepage in August 2010
The Bing homepage features an image that changes daily.
Slogan Bing & decide
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Search Engine
Registration Optional
Available language(s) Multilingual (40)
Owner Microsoft
Created by Microsoft
Launched June 1, 2009
Alexa rank increase 21[1]
Current status Active

Bing (formerly Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search) is the current web search engine (advertised as a "decision engine")[2] from Microsoft. Bing was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 28, 2009 at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego. It went fully online on June 3, 2009,[3] with a preview version released on June 1, 2009.

Notable changes include the listing of search suggestions as queries are entered and a list of related searches (called "Explorer pane") based on[4] semantic technology from Powerset that Microsoft purchased in 2008.[5] As of June 2010, Bing is the third largest search engine on the web by query volume, at 3.24%, after its competitor Google at 84.80% and Yahoo at 6.19%, according to Net Applications.[6]

On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in which Bing would power Yahoo! Search.[7]



MSN Search

MSN Search homepage in 2006

MSN Search was a search engine by Microsoft that comprised a search engine, index, and web crawler. MSN Search first launched in the third quarter of 1998 and used search results from Inktomi. 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

Windows Live Search homepage

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.[8]

Live Search

Live Search homepage

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.[9]

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.[10]

Microsoft recognised that there would be a brand issue as long as the word "Live" remained in the name.[11] As an effort to create a new identity for Microsoft's search services, Live Search was officially replaced by Bing on June 3, 2009.[12]

Yahoo! search deal

On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that they had made a 10-year deal in which the Yahoo! search engine would be replaced by Bing. 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 adverts on some Microsoft sites. Yahoo! Search will still maintain its own user interface, but will eventually feature "Powered by Bing" branding.[13][14]

Market share

Before the launch of Bing the marketshare of Microsoft web search pages (MSN and Live search) had been steadily declining. Since Bing's launch in the US, Microsoft has increased its US search market share. Microsoft, in third place, has increased its share from 8% in May 2009[15] to 12.1% in May 2010,[16] according to figures from ComScore. Bing's global market share in May was 3.24%.[17]


Interface features

Media features

Instant answers

Local info

Integration with Hotmail


Bing is available in many languages and has been localized for many countries.[23]

Languages in which Bing can find results

Languages in which Bing can be displayed

Search products

In addition to its tool for searching web pages, Bing also provides the following search offerings:[24]

Service Description
Dictionary Bing Dictionary enables users to quickly search for definitions of English words. Bing Dictionary results are based on Microsoft Encarta World English Dictionary. In addition, Bing Dictionary also provides an audio player for users to hear the pronounciation of the dictionary words.
Entertainment Bing Entertainment allow users to view and search for detailed information and reviews for music, movies, television shows, and video games. Bing Entertainment partners with Microsoft Games to allow users to directly play online games within Bing Online Games.
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.
Finance Bing Finance enables users to search for exchange listed stocks and displays the relevant stock information, company profile and statistics, financial statements, stock ratings, analyst recommendations, as well as news related to the particular stock or company. Bing Finance also allow users to view the historical data of the particular stock, and allows comparison of the stock to major indices. In addition, Bing Finance also features a Silverlight-based "stock screener", allowing investors to quickly filter for value, contrarian, high-yield, and bargain investment strategies.
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 infinite scroll feature allows browsing a large number of images quickly. The advance filters allows 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,, and, 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.
Shopping Bing Shopping lets users search from a wide range of online suppliers and marketer's merchandise for all types of products and goods. This service also integrates with Bing cashback offering money back for certain purchases made through the site. This feature is based on the acquisition, but will be discontinued July 30, 2010.
Translator Bing Translator lets users translate texts or entire web pages into different languages.
Travel Bing Travel searches for airfare and hotel reservations online and predicts the best time to purchase them. This feature is based on the Farecast acquisition.
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 allow users to refine their search queries for structured results through data-grouping image galleries that resembles "large online catalogues", powered by Silverlight.[25]
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.
xRank Bing xRank lets users search for celebrities, musicians, politicians and bloggers, read short biographies and news about them, and track their trends or popularity rankings.

Webmaster services

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 following methods:

Mobile services

Bing Mobile allow users to conduct search queries on their mobile devices, either via the mobile browser or a downloadable mobile application. In the United States, Microsoft also operates a toll-free number for directory assistance called Bing 411.[24]

Other services

BingTweets is a service that combines Twitter trends with Bing search results, enabling users to see real-time information about the hottest topics on Twitter. The BingTweets service was initiated on July 14, 2009 in a partnership between Microsoft, Twitter and Federated Media.[26]

Toolbars, gadgets and plug-ins


Both Windows Live Toolbar and MSN Toolbar will be powered by Bing and aim to offer users a way to access Bing search results. Together with the launch of Bing, MSN Toolbar 4.0 will be released with inclusion of new Bing-related features such as Bing cashback offer alerts.[24]


The discontinued Live Search versions of the Windows Sidebar gadgets

The Bing Search gadget is a Windows Sidebar Gadget that uses Bing Search to fetch the user's search results and render them directly in the gadget. Another gadget, the Bing Maps gadget, displays real-time traffic conditions using Bing Maps.[27] The gadget provides shortcuts to driving directions, local search and full-screen traffic view. However, traffic data is limited only for 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.[28] The Live Search Maps gadget was made available for download again on January 24, 2008 with the security concern addressed.[29] However around the introduction of Bing in June 2009 both gadgets have been removed again for download from Windows Live Gallery.


Accelerators allow users to access Bing features directly from selected text in a webpage. Accelerators provided by the Bing team include:

Web Slices

Web Slices can be used to monitor information gathered by Bing. Web Slices provided by the Bing team include:


The Bing team provides an official Bing Firefox add-on, which adds search suggestions to the Firefox search box from Bing.[30]

Marketing and advertisements

Live Search

Since 2006, Microsoft had conducted a number of tie-ins and promotions for promoting Microsoft's search offerings. These include:


Bing's debut features 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.[34] The ads claim that Bing does a better job countering "search overload".[35]

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."[36][37]

Search deals

Verizon Wireless Blackberry devices before and after agreement, with other options removed and Bing listed as the only native search option.

As of Opera 10.6 Bing has been the default search engine on the Opera browser. Bing will also be incorporated into all future versions of Opera.[38]

In addition, Microsoft also paid Verizon Wireless $550 million USD[39] to use Bing as the default search provider on Verizon's Blackberry, and in turn, have Verizon "turn off" (via Blackberry service books) the other search providers available. Though users can still access other search engines via the mobile browser.[40]

Microsoft also has an agreement with Hewlett-Packard to have Bing as the default search engine for all new PCs it sells for the next 3 years.[41]

Name origin

Through focus groups, Microsoft decided that the name Bing 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."[42] Microsoft was assisted by branding consultancy Interbrand in their search for the best name for the new search engine.[43] 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.[44] 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."[45] 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.[46]

While being tested internally by Microsoft employees, Bing's codename was Kumo (くも),[47] 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.

Legal challenges

On July 31, 2009, The Laptop Company, Inc. released a press release stating that it is challenging Bing's trademark application, alleging that Bing may cause confusion in the marketplace as Bing and their product BongoBing both do online product search.[48] 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.[49]

Microsoft contends that claims by The Laptop Company and others challenging its trademark are without merit because these other companies filed for U.S. federal trademark applications only recently, after the filing of the Bing trademark by Microsoft and after the service's public release.[50] Nonetheless, The Laptop Company and other challengers to the Bing trademark contend that they enjoy certain protections under common law and state laws.

Adult content

Video content

Bing's video search tool has a preview mode that could potentially be used to preview pornographic videos.[51] By simply turning off safe search, users can search for and view pornographic videos by hovering the cursor over a thumbnail, since the video and audio, in some cases, are cached on Microsoft's Server.

Since the videos are playing within Bing instead of the site where they are hosted, the videos are not necessarily blocked by parental control filters. Monitoring programs designed to tell parents what sites their children have visited are likely to simply report "" instead of the site that actually hosts the video. The same situation can be said about corporate filters, many of which have been fooled by this feature.[52] Users do not need to leave Bing's site to view these videos.[53][54]

Microsoft responded in a blog post on June 4, 2009, with a short term work-around.[55] By adding “&adlt=strict” to the end of a query, no matter what the settings are for that session it will return results as if safe search were set to strict. The query would look like this: (case sensitive).

On June 12, 2009, Microsoft announced two changes regarding Bing's Smart Motion Preview and SafeSearch features. All potentially explicit images and video content will be coming from a separate single domain, Additionally, Bing will also return source URL information in the query string for image and video contents. Both changes allow both home users and corporate users to filter content by domain regardless of what the SafeSearch settings might be.[56]

Regional censorship

Bing censors results for adult search terms like "sex" for some of the regions including India, People's Republic of China, Germany and Arab countries.[57] This censoring is done based on the local laws of those countries.[58] However, Bing allows users to simply change their country/region preference to somewhere without restrictions – such as the United States, United Kingdom or Ireland – to sidestep this censorship.


Censorship in China

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 internet filtering requirements of the government in China.[59] 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.[60] Searches in Bing are censored all over the world, not just China, when the search query is made in simplified Chinese characters.[61]

Performance issues

Bing has been criticized for being slower to index websites than Google search or Yahoo! search. It has also been criticized for not indexing some websites at all.[62][63][64]

See also


  1. "Alexa Bing traffic results". Alexa. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  2. "Welcome to Discover Bing". Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  3. "Microsoft’s New Search at Helps People Make Better Decisions: Decision Engine goes beyond search to help customers deal with information overload". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  4. "Microsoft Bing rides open source to semantic search". Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  5. "Microsoft to Acquire Powerset". Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  6. "Search Engine Market Share as reported by Compete, comScore, Hitwise, Net applications, Nielsen Online & StatCounter". May, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  7. Microsoft and Yahoo seal web deal.
  8. Chris Sherman, September 12, 2006, Microsoft Upgrades Live Search Offerings.
  9. Mary Jo Foley: Microsoft severs Live Search from the rest of the Windows Live family.
  10. Live QnA team blog announcement.
  11. Keynote with Kevin Johnson at Microsoft.
  12. Wired, 28 May 2009, Hands On With Microsoft’s New Search Engine: Bing, But No Boom.
  13. "Microsoft and Yahoo seal web deal". BBC News. Wednesday, 29 July 2009 13:58 UK. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  14. Tiffany Wu; Derek Caney (Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:27am EDT). "REFILE-UPDATE 1-Microsoft, Yahoo in 10-year Web search deal". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  15. "comScore Releases May 2009 U.S. Search Engine Rankings". Comscore. 2009-06-17. 
  18. Limit Image Results to Color or Black and White Images.
  19. Display Stock Quotes.
  20. Use Bing to Calculate, Perform Trigonometry, or Solve Your Algebra Homework.
  21. Mathematical notations for use with Math Answers.
  22. "Bing! Instantly find answers and add them to your e-mail". Windows Live team. 2009-07-09.!2F7EB29B42641D59!41224.entry. 
  23. Language Tools.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Explore Bing.
  25. Shiels, Maggie (07:39 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 08:39 UK). "Microsoft Bing adds visual search". Technology (BBC News). Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  26. Bing Community: BingTweets Debuts Retrieved on 2009-07-20.
  27. Traffic by Live Search Maps Vista Gadget Returns.
  28. Yes, the Live Search and Live Search Traffic gadgets are gone: security concerns cited.
  29. The Traffic Gadget is Back!.
  30. Bing Firefox addon.
  31. Reuters AlertNet, 17 January 2007, Microsoft launches "Click for Cause" initiative to support UNHCR Net campaign.
  32. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  33. "Microsoft challenges search users to game of snap".
  34. Microsoft Aims Big Guns at Google, Asks Consumers to Rethink Search.
  35. "Microsoft's Bing Ad Claims to Terminate 'Search Overload'". PC World. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  42. "The sound of found: Bing!". May 28, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  43. "Interbrand Blog | Interbrand names Microsoft's new search engine Bing!".!.aspx. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  44. [1]
  46. Binging on search by design.
  47. "First screenshot of Microsoft's Kumo emerges". March 3, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  48. Wauters, Robin (2009-07-31). "BongoBing Opposes Microsoft Trademark Application For “Bing”". Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  49. Johnson, Bobbie (Monday 21 December 2009). "Microsoft sued over Bing trademark". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  50. Johnson, Bobbie (December 21, 2009). "Microsoft sued over Bing trademark | Technology |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  51. Magid, Larry (June 2, 2009). "Parents beware: Bing previews video porn".;txt. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  52. Krazit, Tom (June 4, 2009). "Microsoft gives Bing stronger search filter option". Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  53. Magid, Larry (June 5, 2009). "Microsoft offers unworkable solution to Bing porn".;pop. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  54. McDougall, Paul (June 8, 2009). "Bing Porn Draws Flak". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  55. Nichols, Mike (June 4, 2009). "Bing Community: smart motion preview and safesearch". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  56. Nichols, Mike (June 12, 2009). "Bing Community: Safe Search Update". Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  57. "No sex for Indians on Microsoft Bing".,flstry-1.cms. 
  58. "Why You Can't Search The Word 'Sex' On Bing". 
  59. Kristof, Nicholas (November 20, 2009). "Boycott Microsoft Bing". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010. 
  60. [2]
  61. [3]
  64. [4]

External links