He also called on other arguments to defend Bing's approach, including one related to competition with Google and other engines. "We warn our customers rather than suppressing the result [because] if a user searches for 'vacation hotline' and doesn't get the site they're looking for, they perceive Bing to be an incomplete index of the Web which impacts their confidence of the engine," Feldstead said.
Feldstead cited the website vacationhotline.net to show Bing's warnings.
But Thomas Stelter, CFO and a co-owner of Foremost Travel & Tours of Chicago -- which manages vacationhotline.net along with scores of other travel sites -- categorically denied that the domain was infected.
During a telephone interview, Stelter used Norton Safe Web -- a component of Symantec's security software -- to examine the link to vacationhotline.net and reported that the Norton tool said it was safe to click. Other tools at Foremost's disposal also showed no evidence of malware.
Stelter was unaware that Bing had classified his website as hosting malware until the call from Computerworld.
"This creates a significant concern on our side when proper reporting and testing has not been done," Stelter said after collecting himself. "Norton is telling me it's safe, Bing tells me it's not. This inaccurate analysis causes further confusion within the consumer marketplace about where I should go or not go."
Stelter said that his firm manages more than 100 travel-related websites, has a significant presence on the Web -- vacationhotline.net was first registered in 1999, virtually in the Internet's Dark Age -- and has never before been accused of harboring malware.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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