Why Bing is important for Microsoft

Today Bing is celebrating its 5th birthday. Time to investigate why Bing is crucial for the modern version of Microsoft.

There are a lot of goofy numbers out there. If you want any statistic to look good for you, then just walk over to Apple and ask them about their opinion. They are the kings of de-normalized bar charts, unproportional pie charts and much more. So here is a version that makes Bing look fantastic: In the time from January to February 2014 Bing was the fastest growing search engine in the United States! The truth is that Bing got up 0.1% while Google (and others) have been stagnant or losing up to 0.1%.

Of course this is just the USA. Outside America Bing barely gets any significant market share. While I love alternatives like DuckDuckGo, I still find myself using Google more often than Bing. Even though Bing has very strong regions:

  • Flight search is much better at Bing
  • Bing maps is at least on the same level, even though the search is lacking
  • Stock market and other financial related searches are quite good
  • Bing offers a much better image search
  • The video search is super useful

Obviously Bing is burning a lot of money. Someone has to pay the electric bill at the end of the day. But to me Bing is much more than just a search engine that is desperately trying to compete with Google. To me is a cornerstone and important asset for Microsoft's future. With or without the new direction towards devices and services, Microsoft needs to have some knowledge system. It needs to have a reliable source of information, that is extensible, fast and provides the basis for a ton of useful APIs.

No matter if you want instant translation, OCR abilities, location information or just weather data. Bing is the central point. Also if gigantic amounts of text needs to be contextualized and evaluated. Bing has already done the job. Need some more information about a specific sports event, physical quantity or a flight plan? Bing got it.

Without Bing Microsoft would be required to give the money to Google, some other competitor or to invest heavily in building a single service. That would then be a dead end-point. With Bing Microsoft can build an awesome knowledge and information center that eventually will compete with Google. If not, then its money is still worth spending, since it empowers a huge variety of other services and applications. Its definitely worth pointing out that the free edition of Windows 8 will be labeled with Bing.

So no matter if you like or use Bing. It's hopefully here to stay and that's good in many ways. No matter how the future of Microsoft will look like - Bing will be important.

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