Bing (formerly Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search) is a web search engine (advertised as a "decision engine") made by Microsoft. It was unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on May 28, 2009 at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, California. It was launched on June 1, 2009. Notable changes include the listing of search suggestions while queries are entered and a list of related searches (called "Explore pane") based on semantic technology from Powerset that Microsoft acquired in 2008.
On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in which would Bing would power Yahoo! Search. All Yahoo! Search global customers and partners made the transition by early 2012.
In October 2011, Bing announced it is 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 has been incorporated into Bing globally, since August 2011. In May 2012, Bing 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.
MSN Search was a search engine by Microsoft that consisted of 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
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 reorganizations 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.
Microsoft recognized that there would be a brand issue 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.
Yahoo! search deal
On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced that they had made a 10-year deal in which the Yahoo! Search 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. All Yahoo! Search global customers and partners are expected to be transitioned by early 2012.
On May 10, 2012, Bing announced a future format change to a three-column display. The first column shows the traditional search results. The middle column, called "Snapshot", will let users make purchases or get directions. The third column, or "Sidebar", provides data from Facebook and Twitter.
- 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 HTML-5 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 - 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)
- Math calculations (e.g., 2 * pi * 24). Users can enter math expressions in the search box using a variety of math operators and trigonometric functions and Bing will provide a direct calculation of the expression.
- Advanced computations. Using the WolframAlpha computational engine, Bing can also give results to advanced math problems (e.g. lim x/2x as x->2) and other WolframAlpha related queries (e.g. calories in 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 Encarta 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 you would simply type "translate" me llamo in english and you will be redirected to a search results page with Bing Translator with your 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
Integration with Hotmail
- With Hotmail’s "Quick Add" feature, users can insert derivatives of Bing search results such as restaurant reviews, movie times, images, videos, and maps directly into their e-mail messages.
Integration with Facebook
- Bing's search results can display one's Facebook friends when a Facebook account is linked with Bing via Facebook Connect.
- Users have the option to send messages to their friends in the search results.
- As part of the changes announced May 10, 2012, the "sidebar" column of the new three-column search results display will include recommendations from Facebook and the ability to interact with others from the same page. For the previous year search results had included Facebook recommendations using the "like" button but most users did not want this; the new display makes this feature separate from search results in general.
Bing is available in many languages and has been localized for many countries.
Languages in which Bing can find results
Languages in which Bing can be displayed
In addition to its tool for searching web pages, Bing also provides the following search offerings:
|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 pronunciation 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.|
|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 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.|
|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 Jellyfish.com acquisition, but it has been discontinued since 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 (now deprecated) 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.|
|xRank||Bing xRank allowed users to search for celebrities, musicians, politicians and bloggers, read short biographies and news about them, and track their trends or popularity rankings. As of October 2010, this feature was shut down.|
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:
- Bing Local Listing Center allow businesses to add business listings onto Bing Maps and Bing Local.
- Soapbox on MSN Video allow users to upload videos for searching via Bing Videos.
Bing Mobile allows 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.
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:
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.
Bing Rewards is a service that allows users to earn points for searching with Bing. These points can be redeemed for various products such as electronics, multimedia and gift card .
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. (See "Bing Rewards")
GadgetsThe 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. The gadget provides 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.
Bing Desktop is also a gadget-like Windows program for Windows 7 that adds a search bar to Windows Desktop and changes the desktop background to that of Bing's image of the day.
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.
Accelerators allow users to access Bing features directly from selected text in a webpage. Accelerators provided by the Bing team include:
- Bing Translator
- Bing Maps
- Bing Shopping
Web Slices can be used to monitor information gathered by Bing. Web Slices provided by the Bing team include:
- Weather from Bing
- Finance from Bing
- Traffic from Bing
The Bing team provides an official Bing Firefox add-on, which adds search suggestions to the Firefox search box from Bing.
Marketing and advertisements
Since 2006, Microsoft had conducted a number of tie-ins and promotions for promoting Microsoft's search offerings. These include:
- Amazon.com'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 17 January 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 price 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".
Launched by Microsoft in September 2010, Bing Rewards provides credits to users through regular Bing searches and special promotions. These credits are then redeemed for various products including electronics, gift cards and charitable donations. Initially, participants in the program were required to download and use the Bing Bar for Internet Explorer in order to earn credits; however, this is no longer the case, and the service now works with all major browsers. The Bing Rewards program is similar to two earlier services, SearchPerks! and Bing Cashback, which have now been discontinued.
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."
Los Links Son Malos
An advertising campaign during 2010, Los Links Son Malos (Template:Lang-en), took the form of a Mexican telenovela, with people conversing in Spanish, subtitled in English. In it, somebody rides in on a horse and takes a woman away when he shows her how easy Bing is to use in order to get movie tickets or travel.
As of Opera 10.6, Bing has been incorporated into the Opera browser, but Google is still the default search engine. Bing will also be incorporated into all future versions of Opera. Mozilla Firefox has 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. However, the default edition of Firefox still has Google as its default search engine, but has included Bing in its default list of search providers since Firefox version 4.0.
In addition, Microsoft also paid Verizon Wireless $550 million USD 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.
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." 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.
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. 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. 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 contends that claims challenging its trademark are without merit because these companies filed for U.S. federal trademark applications only after Microsoft filed for the Bing trademark in March 2009.
Bing's video search tool has a preview mode that could potentially be used to preview pornographic videos. 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 "Bing.com" 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. Users do not need to leave Bing's site to view these videos.
Microsoft responded in a blog post on June 4, 2009, with a short term work-around. 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:
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=adulttermgoeshere&adlt=strict (case sensitive).
On June 12, 2009, Microsoft announced two changes regarding Bing's Smart Motion Preview and SafeSearch features. All potentially explicit content will be coming from a separate single domain, explicit.bing.net. 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.
Bing censors results for adult search terms for some of the regions including India, People's Republic of China, Germany and Arab countries. This censoring is done based on the local laws of those countries. However, Bing allows users to simply change their country/region preference to somewhere without restrictions – such as the United States, United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland – to sidestep this censorship.
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.
Bing has been criticized for being slower to index websites than Google. It has also been criticized for not indexing some websites at all.
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's spokesperson, was clear: "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 further 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-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users." Microsoft commented that clickstream data from customers who had opted in was collected, but said that it was just a small piece of over 1000 signals used in their ranking algorithm, and that their intention was to learn from their collective customers. They stated that Bing was not intended to be a duplicate of any existing search engines.Representatives for Google have said the company simply wants the practice to stop.
- Official Bing homepage.
- Discover Bing
- Decision Engine
- Bing Community
- Bing Newsroom
- Bing Toolbox - for developers and webmasters
- Bing API - for developers
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