A New Brand of Exploring with Bing!

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The best part of the internet is being able to do fast searches for almost anything under the sun and almost always getting some information about it. Google has it’s Google search engine, Yahoo has Yahoo search, and Microsoft has it’s very own Bing! Fully functional on the web on June 3, 2009, Bing had a much anticipated release. Formerly developed under the names of Live Search, MSN Search, and Windows Live Search, it finally made its debut as the “decision engine”.

After Microsoft’s takeover of PowerSet in 2008, it used PowerSet’s technology to improve the search engine. Remarkable modifications such as search suggestions being listed in real time as queries are entered were developed from Powerset, and the feature “Save and Share” search histories by way of Facebook, Windows Live, SkydDrive or even by email. Currently, Bing’s new features are exclusively available in the version from the United States.

So one may wonder – why the name “Bing”? Basically, it was merely an onomatopoeia wherein the name is a mimic of a sound it corresponds to. Considering that the word Bing is easy to recall and spell, it was a perfect choice for Microsoft, especially since it seemed to represent the sound one associates with a light bulb turning on in one’s head when they discover something new or have a really great idea. This idea was not just the brainchild of simply one person, it was carefully researched by Interbrand (a branding consultancy firm hired by Microsoft). The word Bing also has its own branding tagline – “the sound of found!” The Bing name craze was adopted by Microsoft Online Services president, Qi Lus, who described Bing as equal to the Chinese language’s bì yìng which basically means “very certain to respond.”

Upon studying the history of Bing from it being MSN Search and developing as Windows Live Search, evolving to Live Search, and being reborn as Bing, Microsoft has obviously had quite a challenge in creating the perfect search engine that represented them. As MSN Search, it had contained features such as index, search engine, and web crawler. It employed results from Inktomi when it debuted in the latter part of 1998. Developing further into 1999, the results of Inktomi were mixed in displayed listings from Looksmart, and for a limited time after was mixed with AltaVista. As years passed, Microsoft improved MSN Search which had its own search engine results (e.g. list of web address with content samples of the query being made). This index was refreshed daily. With a foundation of many years of research, the upgrade began in November of 2004 as a beta program and came out if it by February of 2005. It also had an image search engine which was powered by Picsearch, another third party provider. In an attempt to keep at par in the market, it provided search results to different other search engine portals.

In March of 2006, MSN Search was replaced by an initial public beta called Windows Live Search. New features included special information type searches by employed search tabs. This included desktop, images, music, Web, news, local, and even Microsoft Encarta. To change the default search engine in Internet Explorer, they made accessible a configuration menu as well. By this time, Microsoft was no longer using a third party, PicSearch, for image searches and had developed their own in Windows Live Search.

Live Search was combined with Microsoft adCenter by 2007. The decision of Microsoft was to detach the Windows Live services family from its search developments to create Live Search. Led by Satya Nadella, Live Search was incorporated into Live Search and Ad Platform which was part of the program of the division of Microsoft’s Platform and Systems. The search offerings of Microsoft underwent a succession of reorganizations through the development of Live Search. Book and academic search results were incorporated into the regular search which marked the end of the Live Search Books Publisher as well as Search Books and Live Search Academic. Windows Live Expo was also discontinued on July of 2008, as was Live Search Macros a shot time later. Live Product Upload that supported the products listings of Live Search Products ended too, although Live Search QnA was renamed MSN QnA in February of 2009. However, this was also later terminated. The branding strategy of Microsoft was always to leave the word “Live” in any newly developed search engine product, until it veered away from its plan and named its most recent engine Bing.

The neat interface features of Bing are the background images that change every day. The theme is very interesting since they are of the extraordinary places of the world. These images can also be switched on or off, and when doing a mouse over, information of the images appears. A results section also appears on the left panel of the page with related and past searches. On the right panel a list of related and relevant web addresses from within the article searched also appears. For Wikipedia pages, third party site data may also be viewed in Bing.

The unique media features of Bing are first, when doing an image search, the results page allows of the adjusting for color, layout, size or style of the images. The video search also has settings that may be adjusted for resolution, source, length and screen size of the video, plus the video thumbnail can already start playing when doing a mouse-over on the thumbnail image.

With the development of Bing (from MSN Search, it) has also brought with it the advance of the promotional side that created many other Microsoft search offerings. One such tie-in was Amazon’s A9 search that began in May of 2006. “Ms. Dewey”, an interactive experimental search site syndicated every search outcome from Live Search. Another was “Search and Give” which was launched in January 2007 wherein if a search was done from a ‘special portal site’ it would direct a donation to UNHCR’s organization for refugee children (www.ninemillion.org). However, this was ended in June of 2009 after having given over $500,000 to schools and other charities. Yet another was the “Live Search Club” which started in April of 2007 where users can win prizes if they play word games wherein the words used would produce search queries on Live Search. This same feature is now called “Club Bing.” “Live Search SearchPerks” was a site that started on October 2008 and ended on April 2009. Live Search SearchPerks let users cash in tickets for prizes upon using the search engine of Microsoft.

With the unveiling of Bing, the unique features have finally arrived for fans anticipating Microsoft’s next step in the internet environment. However, there are still the critics who see some problems in this new search engine. First, with the video playing mouse-over feature, any videos play since they are playing on Bing and not on their hosted site. Therefore, parental control filters or corporate filters do not necessarily work on Bing. Fortunately, Microsoft responded to this problem by creating explicit.bing.net for exclusive viewing of such sites but within the conditions set by parental and corporate control filters. However, depending on what region you are, different laws regarding pornography exist, therefore Bing allowed for censoring depending on what country you are in. however, one may change the settings of  what their country or region preference and bypass the local law restrictions.

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