1. A Brief History
1.1. MSN Search
In the third quarter of 1998, Microsoft launched MSN Search. Initially, it used search results from Inktomi and included a search engine, index, and web crawler. Later, it combined Looksmart listings with Inktomi results, followed by a brief period using AltaVista’s results. Microsoft then invested heavily in building its own web crawler for MSN Search, with a regularly updated index. In November 2004, it began as a beta program and launched out of beta in February 2005. This move coincided with Yahoo! Search rolling out its own crawler. Image search on MSN Search was powered by Picsearch, and the service provided its search results to other search engine portals to improve competitiveness in the market.
1.2. Windows Live Search
In March 2006, the first public beta for Windows Live Search was released. The final version replaced MSN Search in September 2006. This new search engine featured search tabs for web, news, images, music, desktop, local, and Microsoft Encarta. It also switched from using Picsearch to its own internal image search algorithms.
1.3. Live Search
On March 21, 2007, Microsoft rebranded its search service as Live Search and separated it from the Windows Live services family. Live Search was integrated into the Live Search and Ad Platform under the leadership of Satya Nadella. This rebranding involved merging Live Search with Microsoft adCenter. Several reorganizations and consolidations of Microsoft’s search offerings were made under the Live Search brand. In May 2008, Live Search Books and Live Search Academic were discontinued and integrated into regular search. Windows Live Expo was also discontinued in July 2008. Live Search Macros, Live Product Upload, and Live Search QnA were subsequently discontinued in 2008 and 2009.
1.4. Rebranding as Bing
Microsoft acknowledged that the word “Live” posed a branding problem. To create a fresh identity for its search services, Live Search was officially replaced by Bing on June 3, 2009. The name “Bing” was chosen as it was memorable, short, easy to spell, and worked well as a URL worldwide. The name also brought to mind the sound made during the moment of discovery and decision making. Microsoft worked with branding consultancy Interbrand to find the best name for the new search engine. Though originally proposed as “Bang,” the name “Bing” was ultimately chosen as it could be used as a verb in the context of an internet search. It also bore resemblance to the word “bingo,” which signifies finding or realizing something.
1.5. Legal Challenges
Bing faced legal challenges regarding its trademark application. Companies like The Laptop Company, Inc., TeraByte Unlimited, and Bing! Information Design raised concerns about possible confusion in the marketplace due to existing products that used the name “Bing.” Microsoft argued that these challenges held no merit as the trademark applications were filed after Microsoft filed for the Bing trademark.
1.6. Yahoo! Search Deal
On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a ten-year deal that involved replacing Yahoo!’s search engine with Bing, while retaining the Yahoo! user interface. As part of the deal, Yahoo! retained 88% of the revenue from search ad sales on its site for the first five years, as well as the right to sell advertising on some Microsoft sites. The transition to Bing for all Yahoo! Search customers and partners was completed by early 2012.
2. Notable Features
2.1. Interface Features
- Daily changing background images, featuring locations, animals, people, and sports.
- Video homepage for HTML5 enabled browsers, similar to the daily background images.
- Images page displaying the main picture of the day and related searches with preview pictures.
- Left side navigation pane with navigation, related searches, and prior searches on results pages.
- Right side extended preview, offering a larger view of the page and URLs to links within the page.
- Sublinks on certain search results, showing section links within the article.
- Enhanced view, allowing users to view third-party site information within Bing.
- Search from within certain websites on the results page.
- Display of customer service numbers on the results page for applicable sites.
- Quick access to MSN, Office Online, and Outlook.com from the homepage.
2.2. Media Features
- Video thumbnail previews that start playing when hovered over.
- Image search with continuous scrolling results and adjustable settings.
- Advanced filters or operators for refining image search results.
- Video search with adjustable settings for length, screen size, resolution, and source.
2.3. Instant Answers
Bing provides instant answers for various queries, including:
- Sports scores and statistics.
- Finance information and stock market data.
- Unit conversion.
- Mathematical calculations and advanced computations.
- Package tracking and tracing.
- Dictionary definitions.
- Spell check for frequent misspellings.
- Best match and similar sites.
- Product shopping and Bing cashback.
- Health information.
- Flight tracking.
- Translation of search phrases.
2.4. Local Info
- Current traffic information.
- Business and people listings.
- Localized searching for restaurants, services, coupons, and deals.
- Restaurant reviews.
- Movie listings and showtimes, customized by city.
- City hotel listings with extended information, reviews, and directions.
2.5. Third-Party Integration
- Option to share searches with Facebook friends via Facebook Connect.
- Integration with Apple’s Siri on iOS 7 and higher.
2.6. Integration with Windows 8
- Bing Smart Search integration in Windows 8.1, processing queries from the Windows Start Screen.
- Hero Search feature provides quick access to popular places, objects, or people.
- Weather and location information from Bing Weather and Bing Maps.
- Integration with Groove Music for playing music of searched artists.
- Bing Translator enables translation of text or web pages into different languages.
- Bilingual Viewer allows viewing of original web page text and translation side by side.
2.8. Knowledge and Action Graph
- Bing’s knowledge and action API offer answers and visualizations from a vast knowledge base.
2.9. Bing Predicts
- Bing Predicts uses search data to predict outcomes of various events, from reality shows to political elections and sports events. It has achieved high accuracy in some cases.
3. International Expansion
Bing is available in many languages and localized for numerous countries worldwide. Its search results differ depending on the user’s region.
4. Additional Search Products
In addition to web search, Bing offers various search services:
- Bing Ads for pay-per-click advertising.
- Bing Dictionary for definitions and pronunciation.
- Bing Events for searching upcoming events.
- Bing Finance for stock market information.
- Bing Images for searching and filtering images.
- Bing Local for finding local businesses, addresses, and reviews.
- Bing Maps for searching locations and mapping.
- Bing News as a news aggregator.
- Bing Recipe for searching cooking recipes.
- Bing Reference for indexing Wikipedia content.
- Bing Social for searching real-time information from Twitter and Facebook.
- Bing Translator for text and web page translations.
- Bing University for detailed information about U.S. universities.
- Bing Videos for searching and viewing online videos.
- Bing Visual Search (deprecated) for refining search queries through image galleries.
- Bing Weather for local weather conditions and forecasts.
- Bing Wolfram Alpha for directly answering factual and mathematical queries.
4.1. Webmaster Services
Bing Webmaster Center allows webmasters to manage web crawling status and submit content for indexing. Bing Local Listing Center enables businesses to add listings to Bing Maps and Bing Local.
4.2. Mobile Services
Bing Mobile allows search queries on mobile devices through mobile browsers or downloadable applications.
4.3. Developer Services
Bing Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to programmatically submit queries and retrieve results from Bing. The API supports XML, JSON, and SOAP protocols.
4.4. Bing News
Bing News is a news aggregator integrated with Bing’s search engine. It displays the latest news stories, categories, and special events. Bing for Business Industry News provides a personalized newsfeed about an organization’s activities, competitors, and industry.
5. Bing Software
The Bing Bar browser extension toolbar provides links to Bing and MSN content without leaving the web page. It also features local weather and stock market positions.
Bing Desktop allows users to search Bing from their desktop, view news headlines, set the background to the Bing homepage image, or choose from previous background images. Bing Search gadget (deprecated) fetched search results in a Windows Sidebar Gadget, while Bing Maps gadget (deprecated) displayed real-time traffic conditions.
6. Market Share
Bing’s market share has varied over the years. By January 2011, Bing’s share reached 12.8% in the US, gaining from Yahoo! and Google. In 2015, its share declined to 20.9%. As of October 2018, Bing is the third largest search engine in the US, with a query volume of 4.58%.
7. Marketing and Advertisements
Bing launched with an extensive advertising campaign in the US, focusing on its search features and functionality. They ran ads promoting Bing as a “decision engine” and engaged in partnerships with various companies to bundle Bing with their products. Bing also conducted the “Bing It On” campaign, where people compared search results without knowing which search engine they were using.
8. Adult Content
Bing censors “adult” search results in compliance with local laws in certain regions like India, China, Germany, and Arab countries. However, users can change their region preference to access uncensored search results from locations without restrictions, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or Ireland.