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Bing Now Nearly As Good As Google — Says Microsoft 405

Posted by timothy
from the totally-objective dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Harry Shum, who oversees research and development for Microsoft's Bing search engine, believes his company has now matched Google's ability to build software platforms that can harness the power of tens of thousands of servers. — 'For many years, we've really tried to play the catch-up game,' Shum says. 'And now we feel that after a lot of effort, we understand search quality problems better than before, and that if you look at Google and Bing, the quality is beginning to be very comparable.' While his comments might be a little biased, many people do share the same opinion. How do you feel about Bing's search results compared to Google's? For example DuckDuckGo, the privacy oriented search engine, uses Bing's back-end and has gained a small following on Slashdot."
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Bing Now Nearly As Good As Google — Says Microsoft

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  • Holy self-reference! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:29PM (#39312383)

    I had submissions rejected in the past for referencing Slashdot in them. Have the rules changed?

    And while we're at it, would DuckDuckGo's "small following on Slashdot" please enter and sign in with a few posts?

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:36PM (#39312443)

      ...as a lowering in standards. Slashdot is now all about the paid astro-turfing, self-referential brand-building, and manufactured outrages designed to generate pageviews. The founders are gone, and It's Time to Start Running This Like a Business, Goddammit!

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:45PM (#39312523) Journal

        Mod +1 Profitable!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by justforgetme (1814588)

      DuckDuckGo [duckduckgo.com]? It works. hat else is there to say?

    • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#39312545)
      I use it as my primary search engine. Managed to get it set as the built in search option in Safari. Only go to google if it draws a blank. I'd say about 20% of my searches still go to google on my desktop (google scholar mainly)
    • by Theolojin (102108) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:48PM (#39312549) Homepage

      And while we're at it, would DuckDuckGo's "small following on Slashdot" please enter and sign in with a few posts?

      I've been using DuckDuckGo for some time, primarily for the privacy and lack of filtering based on my previous queries (finding political articles that are *not* slanted toward my bias, for example). However, during this time I've discovered that if I really need to find an answer to something I'm entering a `!google' into my search (which forces DuckDuckGo to use Google). :-\

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by unapersson (38207)

        I gave it a go recently when it was mentioned as a way to escape the search bubble and eliminating the bias of a search engine knowing too much about you. Was then surprised how on a search for ubuntu it quite prominently gave a link about how ubuntu was an imperfect alternative to windows. It took me back to "get the facts".

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:04PM (#39312683) Journal
          Really? I just searched for Ubuntu and the top links were:
          • ubuntu.com (flagged as the official site).
          • help.ubuntu.com
          • The wikipedia entry about Ubunut (https, of course)
          • ubuntuforums.org.

          I scrolled down a long way and didn't get anything that looked even vaguely like the link you describe. Are you sure it wasn't the advert link (easy to spot, because it's on a yellow background and says 'sponsored link' next to it). For me, this time, that link was to a German company that offers Linux support, but I can well imagine it would be Microsoft on another search.

          • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:58PM (#39314233)

            To be fair to the parent my very first reaction to the article was to jump on Bing and type "Linux" into the search field to see if it still directed to Microsoft's results first.

            Looks like they've cleaned up their act, but the parent is right. For the longest time the search was horrendously biased towards Microsoft products and services.

    • i was not aware that there was any sort of feedback mechanism.

    • by RKBA (622932)
      I've tried DuckDuckGo but the results weren't very good, so now I'm trying Startpage.com
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:39PM (#39312957) Journal
      I started using duck duck go over google a couple weeks ago. If the google search of 8 or 10 years ago (back when I first used it) looked like the google search of today, I wouldn't have used them back then. In no particular order: the new privacy policy, google+ integration, replacing URLs with redirection URLs, and all the rollover javascript crap. Oh, and ignoring what I searched for in favor of what they think I meant.
      • by justforgetme (1814588) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:43PM (#39314123) Homepage

        Oh, and ignoring what I searched for in favor of what they think I meant.

        This was the first thing that irritated me about Google. I think it's been about 2 years now when I
        realized that writing stuff in quotes didn't have the effect it used to.
        Then they just started auto
        correcting you.
        Then pushing the "search for {original query} instead" link stopped making a difference.
        Then there was the excessive bubbling.
        And then my paranoia kicked in when they started merging all their privacy policies and I moved
        away from Google for good.

        I've been on ddg for some time now and (after getting used to the different api & interface) I have
        come to like it and actually a finding it quite powerful.

        Something I want to look into though is how much of the search results are organic and which
        come from yahoo's BOSS infrastructure.

    • by a whoabot (706122) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:35PM (#39313277)

      There is DuckDuckGo's privacy policy which is really it's raison d'Ãtre. But obviously it needs to have good search capabilities as well, or else you won't use it.

      And DuckDuckGo does have some good things about it. For example, I searched for, with the quotation marks, "first- and second-century" on Google yesterday. Received a lot of hits with "first and second century". Okay, I thought quotation marks are supposed to deliver exact hits? In fact Google's support page says: "By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change." Without any change? Apparently not. Well, whatever. So go to the sidebar, click on "More search options", turn on "Verbatim" (since I do not keep any cookies between sessions, this is not a "set it and forget it" thing). Slightly different results, but still mostly "first and second century". So what now? I don't even know. I just gave up and went to DuckDuckGo: Every result that I saw had exactly the phrase searched for.

      But Google has their Books search and Google Scholar which are both immensely useful to me.

  • Verbatim search (Score:5, Interesting)

    by data2 (1382587) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:36PM (#39312445)

    Since discovering the verbatim feature for Google, the search works once more. Most of my searches are now done with it enabled.

  • by arunce (1934350) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:37PM (#39312459)

    "Nearly as good" like "not good as"?

    • Isn't this just a function of the number of servers used for indexing? As they get more hits and become more popular, they will likely add more servers and hence the difference that may exist will largely be eliminated.

      Which leads to the question, what if a bright FOSS programmer developed a peer to peer application that could use a small slice of millions of mostly idle PC's to conduct and index searches so that internet search wouldn't require commercial enterprises at all? Just think of how few ads we

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Personally, I started using Bing once Google became incapable of trying to correct my every search. Google, unless my search query is "HowdoIfixmyspacebar," maybe you should consider all those missing spaces as intentional?

    But then, I don't have any taste anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0123456 (636235)

      Bing-o. Google search sucks now that they've made it 'smart', so if Bing isn't even as good as that, it really must suck.

      My experience is that Bing has generally been better for technical searches because it doesn't try to 'help' by replacing my acronyms with words that are similar and so common that they completely overwhelm the things I'm actually searching for.

      • it doesn't try to 'help' by replacing my acronyms

        Most of the time that's a useful feature. Yes, if I type 'quick' then pages that say 'fast' are also useful. And in the few cases they aren't, you can put the individual word in quotes to get the exact phrase.

      • by swillden (191260)
        Try turning on verbatim search mode.
    • by Ksevio (865461) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:38PM (#39312947) Homepage
      You can always use the "Verbatim" search option (under "More search options" on the left). It'll still say "Did you mean ...?" but it won't autocorrect if for you.
  • Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:40PM (#39312491) Homepage Journal

    But whilst G+, Maps, Image search are all as well integrated and continue to work better, both in accuracy of things I want, and speed to get them, why would I bother to change to something that's /almost/ as good. Plus, having saved searches available on the phone to check something after searching on the laptop has been more useful than I thought it'd be. So why use Bing on desktop and Google on phone? Makes no sense.

    For now, Google's still the best for what I need it to do.

    • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:58PM (#39312637)

      I think the Slashdot crowd is at least above the average level of intelligence for Internet communities.

      Yet even so, they throw a shit-fit over Google.

      As far as I understand it, Google uses all of its free (awesome) tools to collect information on you. This is the route you take to work everyday. You like this genre of book. Your wife is a cheating whore. You know, basically a personality profile. They then take this profile and sell it (along with millions of others) to advertisers - or rather, Google sells their service of targeting advertising. So if I really like martial arts movies, I'll see ads from Google.

      Let's posit that I had nothing beyond the basic protection of an antivirus and a weekly MBAM scan. No adblock, no NoScript, and I'm running Chrome. After Google's evil plan comes to fruition, I see... advertisements. Which precisely do nothing to me. Sure an ad might give me a suggestion on something I was looking for in the general area, but I'm not going to buy a product solely on the quality of its ad alone. I very rarely buy things at all, anyway.

      So what's the big worry here?

      • by MrDoh! (71235)

        Exactly. Not had an issue with that, and I /appear/ to have some control over that stuff too. There's times to worry about stuff, but finding the route to the nearest Starbucks and having an ad pop up isn't a huge concern to me. If it pops up a coupon automatically and lets me know I can get the same coffee/muffin at a coffee shop 2 doors away? All the better.

      • After Google's evil plan comes to fruition, I see... advertisements. Which precisely do nothing to me.

        Sure, and when Hitler 21k comes to power, he'll happily tap into all that. (not just meaning google). Wait, you didn't seriously think this data was magically encoded in a way that it can only be used a.) by Google and b.) to display ads? Are you really that daft, is that why you introduced your post with bullshit like you did?

        For what? For ads. Something that could be argued is detrimental to society to be

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:47PM (#39312539) Journal

    Google is much more serious about search than Microsoft; I have access to Google Scholar, Google Books and several specialized searches that may or may not be useful to you personally, like Reader and blogs.

    Also, Google gets me much better results in Image search, than Bing, and generally better results from web searches.

  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @01:50PM (#39312563)
    in EU we have ballot screen, so nobody knows what "Bing" is and there is little desire to find out.
  • Bing doesn't give me the results I expect yet.

    I tried the ultimate test to compare both search engines: ego-surfing. When I google for my last name, my homepages are displayed first. When I use bing, my mom's linkedin page is on the top of the list. And she doesn't even know what linkedin is, and how come she have a an account there! Epic fail!

    All in all, I'd say that googling myself works much better than binging myself.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by turkeyfish (950384)

      Searching yourself is a really stupid idea. It provides a key for advertisers and other scam artists to amass personalized information about you in one fell swoop and link it to your machine ID and IP addresses. Once these are sold, you are a sitting duck for identity theft.

      All that your experiment says is that google is way ahead of bing in commoditizing your identity.

  • Bing has gotten better. A year ago, it couldn't even search its own website (search for WP7 dev kit yielded nothing on the first two pages), yet Google did. Now their own website shows up!

    Anyway, it's not surprising that Bing is getting more like Google, since they are actively copying Google [zdnet.com].
  • As more and more people have focused on 'winning' the search results on google, I've gotten more and more 'wrong' results there. Bing has caught up with the google of today, and sadly neither can compete with the google of 4 years ago.

    • by Animats (122034)

      As more and more people have focused on 'winning' the search results on google, I've gotten more and more 'wrong' results there. Bing has caught up with the google of today, and sadly neither can compete with the google of 4 years ago.

      That's what comes from using "social" signals in search. "Social" is very easy to spam. Fake reviews, fake "likes", fake "+1s"... [sitetruth.com] The social networks even host the spam for free - no expensive link farm to host and update.

      Google tried their "real names" policy on Google+ to put a stop to that. That failed. Then they tried correlating what all their users are doing across all their services. That has over 30 US state attorneys general and the European Union after them. Fail.

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Morty (32057) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:11PM (#39312731) Journal

    I just tried bing on a list of sample (obscure, complicated) queries that are relevant to me, personally. google found the correct page in 3 out of 4. bing got 1 out of 4.

    I wouldn't make any grandiose claims on a sample size of 4. But from a "quick and dirty check" perspective, I won't be trying bing again anytime soon.

    BTW: since when are vendor competitiveness claims newsworthy? It always annoys me when stories like this show up on slashdot. Yes, the high-powered $vendor_X executive whose livelihood depends on $product_X has publically claimed that it is equivalent. This is a story? I don't care which vendor you're talking about: the vendor's own claims about relative competitiveness are not newsworthy. Wait for an (impartial) third party to declare that $vendor_X's products, which historically were viewed as inferior to $vendor_Y, are now equal or superior. Or wait for $vendor_X to announce a new feature. Then you have a story.

  • It's not very hard to be "as good as Google" if you're copying their search results... [blogspot.com]
    • Accurately measuring what you competition can do relative to you own efforts makes sense. Its really all about how many servers are put into indexing and monitoring webpage usage needed to prioritize around webpage "hits", under the assumption that a site with more "hits" is "more important" in some sense.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:14PM (#39312759) Homepage

    they finished scarfing down Google's search database, and are just working on fine tuning what percent of false negatives to return?

  • Rule of Acquisition 239 says: Never be afraid to mislabel a product.

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel.bcgreen@com> on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:25PM (#39312847) Homepage Journal
    I've had enough with Microsoft's anti-competitive cheating (essentially), astro-turfing, stomping on competitors and even allies -- not to mention their incessant attacks on Free software and the Open Source realm. Google may have their problems, but they have it within their culture to at least try to do the right thing by their user base.

    I wouldn't want to see an internet where Microsoft had the controlling share of the search market. I've had enough of them attempting to destroy the market while they controlled the desktop (and I'm still dealing with that).

    I use Microsoft's products where it's appropriate and/or necessary, but avoid them where it's anything close to a judgement call. I'm certainly not going to help them gain a new monopoly where they don't currently have one. Keeping them hungry is probably good for the competitive environment.

  • by davevr (29843) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:26PM (#39312851) Homepage
    The different algorithms used by each search engine impart a unique "flavor" to the results. So when talking about how good a search engine is, you need to take that into account. For a long time, Bing just didn't taste good at all (e.g., the results were not accurate or complete enough). Now it is at a point where actually does taste good. Many people however don't get this, because they are judging whether or not it "tastes like google." But that isn't the goal. The goal is to develop a unique flavor that can be just as popular. So perhaps it would be easier for you to think of Google as Coke and Bing as Pepsi (or maybe Dr. Pepper). Now that Bing has finally gotten a good flavor, they can start working on getting more and more people to try it. Then they can be the choice of a new generation.
  • I actually like a number of little things Bing does that make it useful to me.

    For instance, when I search "movies" on both bing and google, I find bing gives me more relevant results on the first page. If I then click the Movies tab at the top it shows info laid out better (IMHO) than if you click on google's "Showtimes for..."

    Bing lists movies and their showtimes by theater (with contact info and movie ratings) with a map at the side in a very clean layout.

    Google lists by movies instead of theater. It add

  • I couldn't find past hour/day/week search settings.
    There are probably a lot more, but this was a glaring omission.

  • Google still offers results relevant to my original search query, Bing does as well but usual far lower down in the results.

    As for "Duckduckgo" I approach privacy in an entirely different manner, in other words I don't leave ti to someone to guarantee my privacy, and consider the aforementioned search engine to be disingenuous in claiming a privacy oriented search engine.

  • Bing is grrreat! for 99% of my searches. The only thing lacking in Bing is that if you search for something technical - like looking for a programming answer on a message board. Google is far better at providing message board results and therefore usually better for 'technical' questions.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:59PM (#39313067) Homepage

    Part of Bing's problem is that they're trying to be "as good as Google". They need to be better than Google to catch up. Bing still has half the market share of Google. Most of Bing's traffic is from Internet Explorer, where Bing is the default browser. Few people use Bing by choice.

    Google has its vulnerabilities. The quality of the business data in Google Places is pathetic. Small businesses complain constantly about Google Places, but it's not their fault. Google can't even get the big ones right. Google Places sometimes thinks Ford Motor Company headquarters is a medical clinic, that WalMart headquarters is a pharmacy, and that Fannie Mae headquarters is permanently closed. It also thinks that Coit Tower, a San Francisco landmark, is a carpet cleaning service. Try searching for Fortune 1000 companies in Google Places. The results for major companies are often just wrong. Google's approach to business locations is still very keyword-oriented, which makes it error-prone and easily spammed. It's quite common for a search for a major company to map to a hotel near their HQ.

    These are "Places" queries. If you ask that question of a map system, you probably want to go there. These are queries for which there is a right answer. It's not an opinion. It's not a popularity contest. It's not "social". Google can't handle that.

    Bing could win by getting that right. Real data is available about businesses and business locations.

    • by trawg (308495)

      I would say that is Microsoft's problem in general. They are stuck trying to play catchup with Google and Apple. All their "new" stuff just appears to be attempts to match features that other people have had for ages.

      Then they have this weird habit of overcompensating and going too far. Windows 8 seems to be this exactly - they seem to focus on a bunch of features like "runs on tablet!" "has live tiles to keep up to date!". Being on a tablet in itself isn't a feature. Live tiles are just widgets; anyone who

  • Why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rix (54095) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:05PM (#39313103)

    Would anyone use the not quite, but almost as good (according to the developer) product?

    Especially when it's Microsoft, because fuck them.

  • Not touching it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Air-conditioned cowh (552882) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:10PM (#39313119)
    Microsoft are evil. I don't touch their OS, I don't touch their software and I am not touching their search engine. So there.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:57PM (#39313431)

    Google was creeping me out... it was just too large and it bothered me that the other search giants were dying. So I made a point of using bing as much as possible.

    When I started using it... it was worse then google... a lot worse. But now it's about the same.

    I still sometimes check google when I'm not finding something on Bing. But increasingly I've found that if it isn't on bing it won't pop up on google either. So they seem about the same to me now.

    We should be happy about this... I know lots of people just hate MS for being MS... but do we want only ONE search engine? We need to support alternate engines just to keep a dynamic marketplace.

  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:18PM (#39313955) Homepage

    I was a big fan of Google way back when, very early days. But as Google gets bigger and more powerful I get more concerned, and their privacy and data-snarfing issues don't make me comfortable at all. I don't want companies profiling me.

    So, I'm no fan of Microsoft's business practices past or present, or much of any of their software. But I hope Bing provides some competition, just to keep Google in line.

    I use DDG as my primary search engine. For a lot of things it works great, and has features that I find useful. When I'm searching for esoteric Linux config questions or equivalent, I reluctantly have to switch to Google, which provides better info. But with change DDG will get better. The fact that they want to be a search engine and not link me into their other "products" is reason enough for me to use it.

  • Right (Score:4, Funny)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @07:25PM (#39314731) Homepage

    And Zune was every bit as good as the iPod.

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