Microsoft is celebrating the 10th anniversary of launching Bing as its Internet search engine. But Bing wasn’t Microsoft’s first try at this market: It previously marketed MSN Search, Windows Live Search, and Live Search before recalibrating and recasting a rebranded Bing as a “decision engine” in hopes of differentiating it from Google Search.
“Today we’re introducing a new kind of search that goes beyond traditional search engines to help you make faster, more informed decisions,” Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi wrote back on May 28, 2009. “It will do this by combining a great search engine (with powerful new features to improve your results for any query), more organized results, and unique tools to help you make important decisions. We think of Bing as a Decision Engine.”
Most Internet users think of Bing as an also-ran: The service has never achieved double-digit usage share worldwide and now commands just 8.24 percent usage, compared to 75.5 percent for Google and 10.47 percent for Baidu. On mobile, Bing is nonexistent with just 0.82 percent usage share.
But Bing and the data that feeds it is still very important to Microsoft, and the software giant has parlayed this data and the insights it provides into a valuable background service that feeds the Microsoft Graph and integrates deeply with various other products and services. And for users wary of Google’s intrusive privacy violations, Bing is the key non-Chinese search engine alternative.
As for the service’s controversial name, Mr. Mehdi explained at the time that Microsoft was looking for “a brand that was as fresh and new as our approach.” It had to be short, easy to spell, and function well as an Internet address around the world. Perhaps more problematically, Bing never really evolved into a credible verb: While people often say they will Google something, using Bing in that way is usually just meant to be sarcastic.
Ah well. Happy anniversary, Bing. We’re still trying to love you.