The comparisons are inevitable.
As Google continues to speed away from Microsoft Live Search in terms of market share (and profits), Ballmer’s crew had to do something drastic.
And Bing is their Hail Mary.
Which brings us how it stacks up against Google. Some say it’s better than Live Search. Some say it’s clean and fast. It certainly feels modern.
But is it better than Google?
IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Microsoft concedes they are the underdogs, and simply being “as good as Google” will not lead to increased market share.
Search actually works quite well. Most people do not have a search problem. They aren’t looking for a solution because they don’t have a problem.
So why doesn’t it matter?
It doesn’t matter because Microsoft didn’t build Bing for the savvy internet user. Here’s the profile of the average Bing user:
- Purchases computer at retail store
- Uses default web browser which is nearly always Internet Explorer
- Does not know how to change default search provider in browser
- Leaves homepage set to “MSN"
- Types “www” in front of every URL
Microsoft understands many users do not under the benefits of installing a modern and more stable browser such as Firefox, Safari, or Opera. Maybe nobody has shown them the number of cool plugins that are available for these other browsers. Or maybe a browser is just a browser to them in the same way that a pair of skis are just skis to a beginner.
Whatever the reason, Microsoft is aware of the fact that the sheer number of Windows users automatically guarantees Internet Explorer will be the default browser on most computers. And what search engine do you think Internet Explorer uses unless the user changes it?
Let’s see how easy it is to change the default search engine in Internet Explorer to Google. Just complete the following ten steps:
- With IE open, click on “Tools”
- Select “Internet Options”
- Select “Programs” tab
- Click “Manage add-ons” button
- Another window open. Select “Search Providers” from left pane
- At very bottom of window, select “Find more search providers”
- Another instance of IE opens. Scroll through list till you find “Google Search Suggestions”
- Click “Add to Internet Explorer”
- Another box pops up. Click “Make this my default search provider” box.
- Click “Add”
Thank you, Microsoft, for streamlining the process!
How many people do you know who will jump through all those hoops? Will your friends? How about your parents or grandparents? Even savvy users will give up and use whatever came with Windows.
Microsoft knows this.
Microsoft has no incentive to make it easy to switch search engines within their browser. I have to believe this factored into Google’s decision to release their own web browser: Chrome.
And that’s why it ultimately doesn’t matter if Bing is better than Google. It doesn’t have to be better. It doesn’t even need to be as good as Google. It merely needs to do a reasonable job. Bing’s search results even LOOK like Google’s. I doubt that’s by accident.
Just as many DVR owners think they are using Tivo when, in reality, they are using some watered down DVR from the cable company, many Bing users will continue to tell others how they “googled it”.
When over 90% of computers run your operating system, you don’t have to build a great web browser. Merely adequate will do.
The same goes for your search engine.