Saturday, 11 July 2009

Here's one way Bing might beat Google at search

NOTE: The following is speculation on my part. I have no insider-knowledge of Microsoft's plans. I'm simply thinking aloud here on my Blog. If you're a Microsoft lawyer getting all worked up about my speculation, sod off and find something useful to do with your life.

A friend and I were at a Google event a few weeks back, and discussing the problem facing Bing when it comes to beating Google at its own game. Sure, Bing is a great search engine. But so is Google, so what's going to make me switch?

At the time, neither of us could think of a single thing. Later on, I started thinking about what a company like Microsoft could do with a truly great search algorithm. Suddenly the penny dropped, and the scales fell away from my eyes.

Microsoft just happens to own the world's most used operating system, and it contains an adequate search tool. That search tool can be made to operate from the desktop, and there's no reason at all why it should be limited to one's own computer. What if my Windows search tool and Bing were one and the same? There are plenty of times when I fire up a browser simply to check my facts.

If the search tool built into Windows was able to search the web (i.e. Bing on the desktop), I might never visit Google again. Especially if Microsoft built it right into the desktop, so it was always available (i.e. the path of least resistance). Then Google might have a problem.

'Ah,' you might say, 'but Google has its own operating system under development.'

Well yes, it does. But so what? Apple also has its own operating system, hardware and a dedicated group of very determined evangelists. Despite all this, the overwhelming majority of people manage to make do with Windows. It's hard to imagine Chrome having any impact at all, and for the same reasons NetBook owners either selected Windows in the first place, or returned the Linux version and switched.