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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Google, Microsoft Bing Locked in Apparent Search Engine Copycat War


Google Instant

Microsoft declined to confirm this for eWEEK, but Winrumors said March 6 that Microsoft is planning to integrate instant search results that render results as users type them into the next version of its Bing search engine. Such a move may be welcomed by Bing users, but it will be derided by Google, if only in private, after the company launched Google Instant last September. See Google Instant at work here. One wonders what the Bing implementation, if real, will look like.


Bing Copying Results

Google Fellow Amit Singhal noted that Google ran a search sting operation by manufacturing queries, only to find that Bing returned the same results to those queries later. "Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation," Singhal wrote. Microsoft attributed this to gathering clickstream data from the Bing toolbar. Is that copying, or simply the practice of mining the Web's collective intelligence? Decide for yourselves.


Google Adds Twitter—After Bing

At the Web 2.0 Summit in October 2009, Bing said it would be indexing Twitter tweets in its results. Google more or less announced the same deal after Bing. Obviously, Twitter was wheeling and dealing with Microsoft and Google for months before signing off on the deals, but it seemed a little too pat that Google would announce the same thing at the same event on the same day. It rang of "anything you can do I can do better," which is not exactly a tune you'd expect a company with 65 percent market share to sing. Of course, the implementation was different. Bing aggregates tweets on this Social Web page. Google first created a real-time search site, but now layers tweets throughout its results.


Search Refinements

Cut to May 2010, when Google introduced more navigation tabs on its left-hand rail, which is something Bing made hearty use of from its inception (or evolution from Live Search, if you prefer) in June 2009.


Dressing Up the Home Pages

In June 2010, Google began letting users add a photo or image to the background of the homepage. Bing launched with a jazzy homepage background, which is still one of its noticeable features.


Bird's-Eye View Features

Google in July made its 45° aerial imagery view available in select cities in the United States and worldwide to all users of Google Maps. That is something Microsoft offered since Live Search.


Image Search

Google revamped its Image Search service in July last year. Like Bing, Google Image Search sports a dense, tiled layout that packs more images on the Web page and makes them easily searchable. Another feature Google has added that Bing employed a year ago is a hover pane that lets users mouse over a thumbnail image to see a larger preview of the picture.


Google Recipe

Google Feb. 24 launched a new search refinement called Recipe View. As one reader noted, Bing has been offering recipes since January 2010. Google has differentiated its recipe search by offering ways to slice and dice results by ingredients, cooking time and calorie count.



Just as Bing "may" be doing instant search a la Google Instant, Google is also trying hard to boost its travel search results by acquiring ITA Software, which funnels a fire hose of flight schedules and fares from airlines. Bing Travel uses this ITA data to offer flight search results, with dynamic price predictions. If Google gets the Justice Department to sign off on ITA, you can bet it, too, will begin surfacing a lot of the same info Bing does.



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