Taking its third swing at Internet search,
Bing aims to put a ding in rival Google.
went live Monday, and early impressions aren't entirely unfavorable. The service offers several options beyond
simple list of search hits. "Boy, it's not Google," seems to be the inspiration for the Bing name.
Microsoft hopes it's enough like Google, however, to attract some of its big rivals hefty search traffic. Bing follows Microsoft's MSNSearch and more recently Live as the latest effort by the software shop to loosen Google's firm grip on the Internet search market.
"Microsoft's search is now ready for prime time," writes Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal in a research note Monday. Aggarwal estimates that Microsoft will spend about $90 million on Bing advertising.
So what's Bing bring?
The home page features a new photo each day. And with it are links and searches related to the photo. The home page also offers a brief list of popular searches of the moment. The Web search results page looks nearly identical to Google's with ads in the right margin and paid links at the top. One interesting feature is that Microsoft offers a clickable option to buy your own ads.
But it is the left margin where Bing distinguishes itself from Google.
Bing has several options that may prove helpful. Some of the Bing features include related searches and categories on its image page to narrow your search results like faces or heads and shoulders. And the video search page offers quick previews on video that start when you roll over the images.
Meanwhile, No. 2
holds its 20% market share in the search industry, and was upgraded to buy from neutral at Barclays Capital on Monday. Barclays raised Yahoo!'s price target to $20 from $15 on hopes that the company can benefit from a recovery in advertising spending.
As a distant No. 3 player that's made no headway against the top shop, most companies, by now may have backed off. But not Microsoft. The big new investment in Bing and the continued interest in a partnership with No. 2 search shop Yahoo!, shows Microsoft has determination.
"Microsoft," Aggarwal writes, "is not ready to take no for an answer."