When was Bing Launched? Bing’s new groove under Nadella

When was Bing Launched? Bing’s new groove under Nadella Microsoft Bing, commonly referred to as Bing, is a web search engine owned and operated by Microsoft. The service traces its roots back to Microsoft’s earlier search engines, including MSN Search, Windows Live Search, and Live Search. Bing offers a broad spectrum of search services, encompassing web, video, image, and map search products, all developed using ASP.NET.

The transition from Live Search to Bing was announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 28, 2009, at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, California. The official release followed on June 3, 2009. Bing introduced several notable features at its inception, such as search suggestions during query input and a list of related searches, known as the ‘Explore pane’. These features leveraged semantic technology from Powerset, a company Microsoft acquired in 2008. Microsoft also struck a deal with Yahoo! that led to Bing powering Yahoo! Search.

Microsoft made significant strides towards open-source technology in 2016, making the BitFunnel search engine indexing algorithm and various components of Bing open source. In February 2023, Microsoft launched Bing Chat, an artificial intelligence chatbot experience based on GPT-4, integrated directly into the search engine. This was well-received, with Bing reaching 100 million active users by the following month.

Bing Launched

When was Bing Launched?

The new four-letter word in your life is Bing. Whether you’ll bother to try it or not, Microsoft has great hopes for it. Bing is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s search engine, and it’s innovative enough for Microsoft to try to rebrand what used to be called Live Search and spend around $80-$100m on promotion.

Bing was announced today by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer at D7, the conference run by the Wall Street Journal’s technology site, All Things Digital. Microsoft’s staff have been using it for many months under a different name: Kumo.

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It will be available to American users next Wednesday, 3 June, and UK users should have access to a beta version.

The new search engine has a number of innovative features, the main one being what Microsoft calls the Explorer pane on the left hand side. When you search for things, the Explorer pane finds results for related searches. This should be a big help for less experienced searches who aren’t adept at querying search engines.

Microsoft has tried to make its search engine smarter and it makes assumptions based on real-world information sources, such as the MSN Calendar. For example, Bing provides different results if you search for Wimbledon during the tennis season or Cannes during the film festival than if you search for the same terms at Christmas.

The results are also designed to surface the sort of things people typically search for, such as phone numbers, that may be buried several layers down in a site. Try searching for British Airways, for example. Many hotel and restaurant searches show the same approach.

A condensed history of Microsoft’s foray into search

It’s Bing’s 10th birthday, but Microsoft’s foray into search engines began nearly 21 years ago when it used technology from Inktomi, Looksmart and AltaVista to power Bing’s ancestor MSN Search. MSN Search eventually became known as Live Search.

By 2005, it was clear that Microsoft aspired to be a player in the search engine sector when it began using its own proprietary web crawler. Image search, however, would continue to be outsourced to a third party for another year — a far cry from the deep learning now used in Bing Image Search.

Microsoft moved further away from third-party suppliers in 2006 by implementing its own image search algorithm and switching to its own ad service, then called MSN adCenter.

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The next year, the company made a number of changes that continue to impact how it operates today, including stripping the Windows branding from its search engine and appointing now-CEO Satya Nadella to lead its newly-formed Search and Ad Platform Group.

Over the following years, a string of reorganizations, consolidations and discontinuations would lead to the rise of Microsoft’s modern search machine, Bing. Named after the sound “in our heads when we think about that moment of discovery and decision making — when you resolve those important tasks,” Bing officially replaced Live Search on June 3, 2009.

Bing Launched

Bing’s new groove under Nadella

Looking back at what might’ve been helps us get a better appreciation for just how far Microsoft and Bing have come. Nokia’s then-CEO Stephen Elop, who was reportedly open to selling Bing, was another candidate in the running to succeed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in 2014.

Nadella, on the other hand, had nearly two decades at Microsoft, including in search, and a background in engineering, computer science and business under his belt. Those experiences allowed him to recognize Bing’s potential value to Microsoft’s overall business strategy. And, in case you were curious, Bing became profitable just a year and a half after Nadella became CEO.

Under Nadella’s Microsoft, Bing became the vehicle that drove advancements in AI and machine learning and the “intelligent fabric” woven into Windows 10, Xbox, Azure, Office 365, Cortana and other Microsoft products.

Microsoft also acquired LinkedIn and GitHub and has begun finding ways to connect the dots between Bing and those platforms. Although GitHub’s benefits for search marketers (and Microsoft, itself) is yet to be determined, it is opening up to more interaction with the developer and researcher communities through initiatives like making one of Bing’s vector search algorithms available as an open-source GitHub project.

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Optimizing for Bing still isn’t a thing

Despite offering numerous unique SERP features, most search market share estimates put Bing in a distance second place. For SEOs this means it often doesn’t get a lot of attention.

“I have found the most valuable thing about Bing to be to help confirm client ‘shot-in-the-foot’ SEO issues,” said Andrew Shotland, CEO and founder of LocalSEOGuide.com, explaining that he uses Bing to check whether organic traffic dips can be attributed to a Google algorithm update or other SEO problems.

Bing’s place in Shotland’s toolbox isn’t unique to him either, as Bing’s relatively small share of the search market perpetuates its image as an ancillary platform for marketers — a luxury for brands and companies with enough resources to cover their bases.

“The data we get from Bing is valuable,” admitted Dana DiTomaso, president and partner at Kick Point, “but with such a limited market share, it’s hard to draw conclusions or extrapolate this out to include Google users as well.” For all its merits, Bing has yet to shake off bridesmaid syndrome for the majority of searchers and the brands and marketers that follow them.

“Despite a lot of success, and Bing winning on many dimensions in blind tests, it has taken significant focus and grit for us to earn consumer use incrementally over 100 months of consecutive growth,” Steve Sirich, GM of Microsoft Advertising Marketing, told Search Engine Land when asked about the ways in which Bing has struggled to keep up with expectations.

“There has not been an easy step-change but demonstrates the focus and commitment we have to this industry,” he added, pointing to Bing’s doubling of its PC search market share since launch and its growth into Microsoft’s fifth largest business, accounting for roughly $7 billion from advertising.

Bing Launched

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