June 18, 2009

Microsoft Determined To Battle It Out With Google

Microsoft Corp's newly launched search engine Bing gained even more market shares from rivals Google and Yahoo last week according to industry data released on Wednesday.

"When you're sitting there as we are in the search base, you've got 8% share and there's a kind of a big dog competitor out there in the market place, you can do very big things," said Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer.

"We have had some very good initial response," Ballmer said referring to Bing at a conference in Detroit. "I don't want to over-set expectations. We are going to have to be tenacious and keep up the pace of innovation over a long period of time."

He added, "We may be successful, we may not, but we can't be successful without being committed to changing things, changing the approach, changing the business model and you can't give up in six months, or a year or two years."

Bing, which was introduced to the public at the end of May, is advertised as being designed to intuitively understand what people are seeking on the Internet.

Bing is the replacement for Microsoft's less than successful MSN Live Search, which has dwindled in a far distant third place trailing behind market-leading Google and runner up Yahoo.

Bing mainly uses algorithms and key words to provide results for online searches, as does Google, but has also incorporated some semantic technology that, according to Microsoft, is able to determine the intended meanings of phrases.

This dominating force in the U.S software market refers to Bing as a "Decision Engine" as opposed to a mere search engine, geared toward helping people make buying decisions, plan activities, research various issues or find local businesses.

The launch of Bing came shortly after Google and Yahoo announced new improvements to their search services and the introduction of a Wolfram Alpha query engine that returns answers rather than just a list of websites.

The software giant has long been committed to playing a key part in the lucrative Web search market ever since Google dominated the market shortly after arriving on the scene.

On the other hand, Google is seeking to use its popularity and develop software that can compete with Microsoft's. This has only increased the tension between the two companies.

Microsoft added fuel to the fire on Wednesday by claiming that Google's new Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook software, which enables users to share data between their Outlook e-mail and Google's online offerings, will cause them to lose an important function in Outlook.

"The installation of the Google Apps Sync plugin disables Outlook's ability to search any and all of your Outlook data," Outlook product manager Dev Balasubramanian wrote on a Microsoft blog. "It is also important to note that uninstalling the plugin may not fix the issue."

Though this problem is relatively insignificant for most users, it represents the importance of the struggle between Microsoft and Google in vying for e-mail customers.

Microsoft snatched 12.1% of U.S. Internet searches for the workweek of June 8-12, according to data released by industry tracker comScore on Wednesday.

That is up from 11.3% in the June 1-5 period when Bing was launched, and up from 9.1% the week before that.

Google still led with 65% of U.S. searches in May, the last full month of available figures, trailed by Yahoo with 20.1% and Microsoft with 8%.

Analysts and investors are keenly awaiting data for all of June to see if Microsoft can maintain initial gains.


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