Consumers must be confused after shifting to Bing from Google

Bing takes market share from Google, despite poor reputation

This is entirely a self-centered rant, based only on my own experience. Looking at stories about Microsoft trying to turn its Bing search engine into a big source of ad revenue by "offering consumers the best deals locally" I wonder if anyone at Microsoft has ever used Bing.

The best, most consistent luck I've had online – has been with Google Shopping (which was more fun to use when I had to type it in as Froogle.com, because at least it seemed as if it weren't really Google I had to go to for one more kind of search and become even more dependent).

It's not nearly as flexible or customizable as I'd like it to be. I always end up wading through pages of things that are either all the same wrong item, or lots of different wrong items all at the wrong price. Try to find the lowest price on anything electronic and you end up either adding lots of modifiers to the search terms or wading through components of the thing you want, not the actual thing.

Given that level of imprecision from a search engine that's normally reliable and can usually be tweaked to produce usable and verifiable sources for answers to my questions, why would I want to look for "the best deals locally" using a search engine that lives on Microsoft's site, focuses on Microsoft's content, but often can't find the right content even when I type in the proper name of a Microsoft product?

Looking for drivers, updates, knowledgebase articles or other content for not just Windows, but Windows 7, Home Premium edition, 64-bit, is a complete crapshoot.

Using it to find content elsewhere on the web is even more random. I get closer using Stumbleon, which sends you random link selections on purpose.

Obviously I'm doing something wrong, or Bing isn't designed for people like me at the far lower end of the intelligence scale.

ComScore reported that Bing gained 1 percent in its share of the total number of web searches during January, while Google dropped the same amount.

That growth was driven by heavy marketing from Microsoft and results from No. 2 search-engine Yahoo, which uses Bing for its search. The two combined to make up 29.2 percent of all searches, while Bing alone handled 13.1 percent.

Google dropped a percentage point to 65.6 percent during the same time.

The market for ads on search engines will top $13.6 billion this year, according to analyst firm EMarketer.

Which is irrelevant. I quit using Yahoo's search long before it switched to Bing, because its search even then was unpredictable.

There are far too many search engines available to stick to one exclusively. And there are good reasons to avoid Google whenever possible, even if only to limit its hegemony in Web-based apps, search and everything else that interests it.

Its search, at least for basic things, is quicker and more accurate than most others in most other cases, however.

Bing doesn't add to its own credibility when I can't avoid using it. .

Google's accusation last month that Bing was swiping Google search results and presenting them as its own (Microsoft claims those results were posted by customers), didn't do it any good, either.

My cynical guess is that the increase in searches on Bing, in addition to the partnership with Yahoo, comes primarily from people who have to search two or three times to find the answer they want, or give up, rather than from people seeking Bing out because it gives them answers they can't find elsewhere.

Certainly the Yahoo connection has been a big boost, as, apparently have deals with Dealmap, Groupon, LivingSocial and Restaurant.com to identify 200,000 offers in 14,000 cities.

I can only wish good luck to anyone using Bing and any combination of others to find deals. One piece of advice, if you're looking for a Microsoft product, use a different search engine. Bing doesn't recognize them all, at least not in 64 bit.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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