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Microsoft Pushing Bing For Search In Schools, With Ad-Removal Hook 158

Posted by timothy
from the why-can't-they-send-them-all? dept.
rujholla writes "Microsoft has been trying to push Apple's iPad aside in favor of Surface tablets in schools, and now the Windows giant is looking to take on Google when it comes to search for students. Microsoft is including features such as allowing K-12 schools to remove advertisements from search results and enhanced privacy controls. Is this enough to beat the Google search quality edge? Or does that edge even still exist?"
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Microsoft Pushing Bing For Search In Schools, With Ad-Removal Hook

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  • by gameboyhippo (827141) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:48AM (#44099481) Journal

    I think this is a good thing. Sure its a marketing tactic, but its a good one. By removing ads and perhaps having a more education focused Bing, students will be able to search for what they want without as much noise. Hopefully Google will do the same if they aren't already.

    • by ericloewe (2129490) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:53AM (#44099523)

      Where's the money for Google? Microsoft can sell all kinds of stuff after using this as a promotional tool. Google can only sell ads, and I don't see them reacting to this until it's proven to have made an impact worth countering.

      • Where's the money for Google? Microsoft can sell all kinds of stuff after using this as a promotional tool. Google can only sell ads, and I don't see them reacting to this until it's proven to have made an impact worth countering.

        Google Apps accounts?

        • by jaseuk (217780)

          Google Apps / Office 365 are free in education anyway.

          But.. What K12 student is going to purchase anything anyway?

          Jason.

          • by cdrudge (68377) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:08AM (#44099645) Homepage

            But.. What K12 student is going to purchase anything anyway?

            The K12 student isn't going to be purchasing all that much when they are using the school's computer. But when they go home and they go to bing.com do do their searching there, or they change the default search engine on the family computer because "that's what we use at school" then it opens Microsoft up for more visits. Plus down the road when those K12 students have graduated, get jobs, and then have money to spend, maybe they'll be hooked on Bing.

            Or at least in theory that's how it's suppose to work. Didn't work all that well for Apple in the 80s and 90s.

            • by bickerdyke (670000) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:21AM (#44099763)

              But worked very well for MS. (and a few others)

            • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:45AM (#44099969)

              But when they go home and they go to bing.com do do their searching there, or they change the default search engine on the family computer because "that's what we use at school" then it opens Microsoft up for more visits.

              Oh yeah. Because that's what kids do. Use stuff they make them use at school on their free time.

            • by jaseuk (217780)

              Youtube for education requires a sign-up process for the school or destrict. You then have to add a cookie as a custom header. Assuming Microsoft do something similar then this will probably be tougher to do at home than installing an ad blocker add-on.

              Jason..

      • Microsoft can sell all kinds of stuff after using this as a promotional tool.

        It doesn't look like they'll be making money any time soon.

        "Microsoft To Start Dumping Surface RT To Schools

        It’s fair to say that Microsoft’s Surface didn’t get the reception the company was hoping for. The tablet debuted last October and tanked shortly thereafter, thanks to an overly ambitious price point, poor software selection, and the myriad issues surrounding Windows 8. "

        http://www.extremetech.com/computing/159034-microsoft-unloading-surface-rt-units-at-199-offering-schools-major-discount [extremetech.com]

        Those poor schoolkids - first they get Surface RTs dumped on them, now Bing? Microsoft should be prosecuted for child abuse!

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Those poor schoolkids - first they get Surface RTs dumped on them, now Bing? Microsoft should be prosecuted for child abuse!

          It's sad that children have to be distracted to no good end so that we can eventually get surplus Surface RTs at government surplus prices, but that's how it is. No child will be left behind — we will take them all to war.

      • Maybe keeping the competition at bay? If Bing starts becoming more successful Google will lose visitors and therefore revenue. Not all business is about the +, sometimes its about avoiding the -
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wvmarle (1070040)

        Kids in school get used to Google, will use it at home. Potential for money for Google.

        Kids in school get used to Bing, will use it at home. No potential money for Google.

        • Kids in school get used to Google, will use it at home. Potential for money for Google.

          Kids in school get used to Bing, will use it at home. No potential money for Google.

          Or kids use xyz in school, associate it with unpleasantness, and never use it again.

          • by wvmarle (1070040)

            Not likely as most kids simply don't know better than what's being told to them by adults (primarily parents and teachers).

          • by PoliTech (998983)

            Or kids use xyz in school, associate it with unpleasantness, and never use it again.

            Nah, just feed those students a nice cocktail of Ritalin, Strattera and Bupropion ... they will then mindlessly do whatever you tell them to. The search engine is just a start.

    • Hey, I'm surprised ad free isn't an iron-clad requirement in schools, not because of the captive audience silliness, but because enough helicoptering whack jobs of parents haven't lost it over how much it prevents their ADHD (that's still the cool one, right?) from being successful.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Just have the school's IT admin install AdBlock, problem solved.

      • by arielCo (995647)

        From TFS:

        remove advertisementsfrom search results

        It would've been phrased better as "purely commercial search results", but you surely have done a search for facts that about (say) a health supplement; they offer to remove the scores of peddlers that'll plague your quest.

      • Just have the school's IT admin install AdBlock, problem solved.

        Honestly I think this is the better solution. Replacing one search engine with another one without ads (is that going to be the new patentable suffix of 2013?) just gets rid of the ads on the search engine. Adding an ad blocker will improve the situation everywhere the student searches, and adds a level of security protection while they are at it.
        Also would they be asking the schools to block Google? I would hope not, as that would probably break a lot of links in forum posts.
        [Something you might find i [google.com]

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      There's billions and billions of extensions to add extra adverts to IE. Every IE user I know has at least a dozen of them installed.

      But ... are you telling me there isn't a single IE add-on to remove adverts, that it takes a special version of the browser from Microsoft to do that?

      • Not a special version of the browser, but rather a special version of Bing.

      • There are quite a few ad remover extensions (in Microsoft-ese, "add-ons") for IE, although they aren't widely used relative to the browser's market share.

        However, IE 9 and later (and 8 with enough finagling) include a feature called "Tracking Protection" ("InPrivate Filtering" on older versions) which is intended as a privacy enhancer, but works quite well as an ad-blocker too. By default, if you enable it in automatic mode, it will block any third-party request that it has seen across at least ten sites. O

    • Noise is unwanted random data existing amidst the resulting dataset. Google's ads are not noise, they are segregated and in a differently coloured box.

      I actually propose an opposing idea. Students should be exposed to adverts, and they should be told they are adverts. They should learn from this and then learn to recognise the difference between data and adverts.

      By keeping our learning lives ad-free we lose the stimulus that teaches us to identify the ads.

      • Re:Noise (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gameboyhippo (827141) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:55AM (#44100579) Journal

        I see where you are coming from. The concern is that if kids never see ads, how will they recognize ads as adults? While I recognize that, I purposely keep my children ad free as much as possible and its had a lot of positive effects. When my kids go down the cereal aisle at a supermarket, they're not screaming for the brand name cereal like my siblings and I did as children. I'm able to teach them first to look at nutrition labels, how to spot marketing techniques like greenwashing, etc... And now that they are able to think, we can sit down and discuss an advertisement when they show up.

        A bit of a story. My 3yo son was playing with an app geared for preschoolers when suddenly a full video toy ad played. He was captivated, thought they were the most amazing toy ever, and began repeating the catchphrase of the ad all day that day. My 6yo daughter sat down with him and said, "That's an ad. It looks cool, but in real life it might not be as much fun as the ad makes it out to be." She understood it.

        So my point is to have the parent educate their kids on marketing rather than have them figure it out the hard way by becoming a target of advertising.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          A bit of a story. My 3yo son was playing with an app geared for preschoolers when suddenly a full video toy ad played. He was captivated, thought they were the most amazing toy ever, and began repeating the catchphrase of the ad all day that day. My 6yo daughter sat down with him and said, "That's an ad. It looks cool, but in real life it might not be as much fun as the ad makes it out to be." She understood it.

          That's a basically an ideal textbook anecdote, because studies have shown that children cannot [on average] differentiate between programs and commercials until about age eight. (I could, but I could read well before I was three, and I could read about things like commercials. I grew up with encyclopedias and a dictionary in my room...)

          • I completely agree. But I wonder if the reason they cannot differentiate between ads and programs is that they are exposed to them all the time. By keeping my daughter mostly shielded from ads, ads became a stark contrast from the rest of the program when they do come on. We recorded Power Rangers Mega Force on our DVR and whenever a commercial came on my son 3yo would cry because he had watched the previous 20 seasons of Power Rangers ad free. He seriously thought that the show had ended. I think a lot of

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Ya, but get adblock and Firefox and you won't need any concessions about removing ads.

  • I use Ixquick in firefox, along with NoScript, adblock plus and RequestPolicy. Do I miss something?
    • I use Ixquick as well, along with NoScript and RequestPolicy. And I still see ads. I don't care though, because they aren't using JS or coming from a site that tracks me.

      I also use Duckduckgo, Wolfram Alpha, and other search engines as necessary. And sometimes I find that Google still provides the best results (particularly for location specific information, and for non-USA information). But it's getting rarer.

      But there are so many tools out there that do provide better results than Google a lot of the time

      • by Saethan (2725367)
        First bing result for Melbourne: 'Melbourne / m l b n, - b r n / is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia.' First bing result for Moscow: 'Moscow is the capital city and the most populous federal subject of Russia'
        • Sure the first result might be good, but as I said, half the results are irrelevant. A search on Google for Moscow gives me a page full of links about the Moscow I care about (one link about some business method with strange caps). It's not until the second page (and the second half of the page) that I get a result about the city of Moscow in SomeState USA.

          Of course, a lot of the results from Google are irrelevant recent news. If I search Ixquick, I get fewer news articles, only two hits for that city in Id

      • by jbengt (874751)

        Similarly for Moscow, half the first page results are for some insignificant location in Idaho.

        I'll have you know my son worked for the university there one summer doing computer security research, you insensitive clod.
        (More seriously, there's a not-insignificant US military presence in that city and school.)

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        First result for Melbourne: the Wikipedia page. First result for Moscow: a news link about Snowden transiting the city, then the first web search result is the Wikipedia page.

        I'm in Hong Kong, apparently makes a difference.

  • Uh, no? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Is this enough to beat the Google search quality edge

    Is this a joke?
    Google is less likely to bring up unrelated articles when doing research. I'll suffer through ads for better content quicker.
    Or better yet, use an ad-blocker.

    • by jaymzter (452402)

      As a search application I cannot stand using Google or going to their website anymore. If Google isn't second guessing your typing it's including results that have nothing to do with your search.

      My personal favorite right now is "ubuntu change bluetooth mac". Google claims 'About 4,890,000 results', yet you don't even get off the first page of results before the results have lost all relevancy. I get it if it's an esoteric search, but if it is just tell me '20 results' and leave it at that.

      It's my perceptio

      • yet you don't even get off the first page of results before the results have lost all relevancy.

        That's not necessarily Google's fault.

        Also, put a + in front of each of those words and you get 4 results.

        It's my perception that their results have steadily trended downward in quality for the last few years.

        Alternatively, there's just a lot more shit on the internet.

      • My personal favorite right now is "ubuntu change bluetooth mac".

        My current personal favourite is:

        +"ubuntu change bluetooth mac"

        which returns exactly one result [slashdot.org]. If nothing else, they're quick.

      • Re:Uh, no? (Score:5, Informative)

        by drakaan (688386) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:46AM (#44099975) Homepage Journal

        As an IT guy that mostly works on Microsoft-branded software, I continue to be amused that Google consistently indexes solutions for problems with MS products (including Microsoft's own content much of the time...even MSDN and KB articles) more handily than Bing.

        I've taken the "Bing Challenge" yearly since I knew about it (three times, I think? four?). Granted, I search for stuff that most people don't, but I'm not all that worried about search results for the typical stuff...I'm interested in results for the stuff that's specific and hard to find. Things where you have to whittle down results by adding in error codes and parts of event log entries...Bing has lost every time when I've just used a recent real-world search term...sometimes less or less-relevant results, and sometimes no results at all, compared to getting me to the answer I needed.

        That said, for the stuff K-12 students are likely to *need* to search for in a school environment, Bing is probably fine. It's a less-capable search engine in general, IMHO, but it's good enough for typical searches for "with no ads!!!" to be a reasonable selling point for schools.

        • Re:Uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:15AM (#44100227)

          That said, for the stuff K-12 students are likely to *need* to search for in a school environment, Bing is probably fine. It's a less-capable search engine in general, IMHO, but it's good enough for typical searches for "with no ads!!!" to be a reasonable selling point for schools.

          I was with you up to this point.

          "good enough for typical searches for "with no ads!!!"" is not good enough for me. I want my kids to learn to think for themselves and make use of all the tools at their disposal. It's especially important at the grade school level where they develop the habits they'll use for the rest of their academic career and beyond.

          This is a marketing strategy and I would be offended if I found out that my daughter's school was forcing her to use Bing. I won't have MS using my kids education as a marketing tool against their competitor at the cost of her future education and research habits. If the school wanted to provide Bing as the default, but still allowed the students to use Google, Yahooh or DuckDuckGo, I'd be ok with that, but I'm not ok with them choosing one and limiting exposure to other methods and comparing results.

          • by drakaan (688386)

            ...It's not good enough for me either. I was saying that I could understand the removal of commercial, sponsored results being enough for a hypothetical school district to say they'd switch. I agree with everything in your post, actually.

            • In hindsight my last post makes me sound a lot angrier than I actually am, but I think if ads are an issue schools should be using ad blockers. I don't think limiting the information they have access to is an acceptable solution. I may be misunderstanding what "commercial or sponsored" results refers to.
              • by drakaan (688386)
                Just like Google does in search results, Microsoft includes sponsored results. Typically it's a situation where you pay for placement, so they're talking about removing commercially-sponsored results and only including normal algorithmic ones. Ad blockers don't drop search results, just linked content, so this proposed benefit is different from what an ad blocker would get you.
                • That's much clearer. Still if a school was to limit students to only using Bing because supposedly MS would remove commercial or sponsored results, do you think we could actually trust MS to do that? I seriously doubt it.

                  MS could weasel it's way into a monopoly in schools, limit students exposure to their competition, hurt the competition in the long run AND get the sponsored results. I'd still be pretty P.Oed if that was the stance my kids school was taking.
                  • by drakaan (688386)

                    Actually, it sounds like the government wants to make this a mostly moot point (just saw an article about the FTC saying that advertisements in search results must be clearly identifiable, regardless of how they are delivered).

                    Doing that would make it pretty easy to remove them or hide them conditionally with a browser plug-in.

                    • Yeah, I read that too. Now it sounds to me like MS knew that was coming down the pipeline, I wouldn't be surprised if they had a hand in it, and decided to get in on the ground floor so they could say, "Hay look at us we did it willingly, that Google guy is trying to screw you over!!"
    • Show the young boys the movie "Room in Rome". Bing plays a big part in the movie. It is used several times and is very important to the plot of the movie. There is no attempt to hide that fact so I would assume that they are getting paid to use it. For those who have not seen the movie, it is about two females who meet and spend the night in a hotel room in Rome. They are naked about 70% of the movie and climax several times. If one gets past the sex, the movie is a heartbreaking movie about the str
      • Nothing breaks my suspension of disbelief in a movie more than seeing a tech-savvy kid or young adult using Bing. I've seen it in several movies now, and they always make it blatantly obvious that they are using Bing and not Google.
        • by chihowa (366380)

          I don't use Bing, either, but I do if someone's looking over my shoulder. I also say thing things like, "let me Bing that for you." The reactions are great, but I think I actually got some people using it. I feel a little bad for that.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      I've been trying out both a bit and I don't actually see a consistent edge either way anymore. Some queries are better on one side, some on the other.

    • by Andrio (2580551)
      It's also less likely to have fake auto complete like this:

      http://media.theweek.com/img/generic/xboxoneamazing.gif

      What's funny is that if you remove the "the" from the query, you see the real autocompletes naturally generated by the algorithm. They're not nearly as positive. ;)
    • by arielCo (995647)

      I think they mean purely commercial results and web spam. From TFS:

      remove advertisementsfrom search results

      Against which an ad blocker is useless. Try searching for info on a health supplement and see how much crap you get.

  • Can't they set up adblock plus in chrome or firefox? Its really quite a nice plugin, and has been around for years.
    • Can't they set up adblock plus in chrome or firefox?

      I don't think Microsoft is allowed to do things that would jeopardize its relationship with advertisers on MSN.com and the like. Sure, Microsoft can give schools an ad-free subscription to a web site operated by Microsoft. But if Microsoft were to add functionality to strip advertisements from web sites that Microsoft does not operate, advertisers would likely retaliate by pulling their advertisements from Microsoft sites.

      • Can't they set up adblock plus in chrome or firefox?

        I think GP means "they" referring to the schools.

        • by tepples (727027)

          I think GP means "they" referring to the schools.

          In that case, Anonymous Coward's comment [slashdot.org] covered it.

          • by jalopezp (2622345)
            Even if you're forced to use IE with no extensions, you (the sysadmin) can still block your ads, for example, in a DNS basis. Heck, you already have the fanboy list, so you don't even need to compile it. Alternatively, see adsuck [conformal.com]. Great thing about computers is that you can usually work around problems.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It isn't necessarily that way, though. Many colleges do not support internet exploder, and only support Firefox. That was the case when I went back to community college to finally get a trivial degree. Our IT manager was a cool guy who knew how to do things and actually, you know, got it. And the IT director was not only fairly well-versed, but also intelligent enough to listen to her manager. Obviously we still used Microsoft Orifice. The school's infomation system was on a 4-way Alpha when I got there, an

  • Quality edge? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arrepiadd (688829)

    "Is this enough to beat the Google search quality edge?"

    What does removing advertising and including privacy features have to do with "search quality"?

    • by heypete (60671)

      Assuming Google can deliver better search results than Bing, some people may be more willing to put up with advertising and fewer privacy-protecting features.

      If Bing produces poor search results, all the privacy features and lack of advertising in the world are not terribly useful: the primary purpose of a search engine is to allow people to search for (and presumably find) things.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You may have a carrot or a Twinkie.

      Is the spongy sweetness of the Twinkie enough to beat the nutritional value of the carrot?

      What does spongy sweetness have to do with nutritional value? Absolutely nothing. How often do you think the Twinkie will "beat" the carrot in a selection contest?

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      Here's an experiment. Search for "Lowes Stud Finder" on Google while in the US.

      WITH ADVERTISING: first four results are:
      [ad] www.lowes.com
      [ad] www.amazon.com/tools
      [ad] www.franklinsensors.com
      www.lowes.com/Tools/Layout-Measuring/Stud-Finders/_/N.../pl

      WITHOUT ADVERTISING: first four results are:
      www.lowes.com/Tools/Layout-Measuring/Stud-Finders/_/N.../pl
      www.lowes.com/pd_274870-317-SS+EDGE_0__?...stud+finder...
      www.lowes.com/pd_197656-317-SS+E50_0__
      www.lowes.com/pd_197653-317-MS+I520_0__

      In the version without ad

  • by TVmisGuided (151197)

    In the Chinese, bing translates as "poison."

    I'm just sayin'.

  • by davecrusoe (861547) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:07AM (#44099641) Homepage
    I appreciate what Bing has brought to the table, but the reality is that young people and educators simply don't turn to Bing for search or, in the case of school, research. What the Bing engagement team might consider is that educators are driven in part by their passion, but also by their need to help young people understand specific subject content in a simple, efficient way. Google's search education team, and more specifically, the efforts that have yielded their search education curricula ( http://www.google.com/insidesearch/searcheducation/ [google.com] ) , is fantastically helpful in that regard. Moreover, their team offers MOOCs, educator conversations and hangouts to clarify how search works. There are other, untapped opportunities that both engines could explore to essentially one-up one another in the education space (for example, how might LRMI integrate?). It would be a pleasure to learn that the Bing team has committed equal resources to developing quality lessons, interface options and community engagement. Alone, however, I don't believe that removing advertising and privacy control modifications are changes enough to make a sizable difference. --Dave
  • I mean this only in that they are focusing on the education market as a source for new users and making accommodations for them.

    I'm not sure if it really worked though.

  • by 6 (22657)

    At this point the only reason a prefer Google search is that I have Firefox configured to remove all advertising from Google. Until it's similarly easy to strip all advertising out of Bing it's just not worth looking at.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Jjust use https://duckduckgo.com
    They even have an addon for most browsers.
    No tracking either.

  • Their search result quality sucks so no, I would say it won't. I still do actually need to find what I'm looking for, which Bing never seems able to do.
  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:34AM (#44099885)

    Will they provide "Safe Search" type filtering for schools? It's widely accepted that Bing provides the best results for searching for porn on the internet.

    I'm not trying to be funny, either... for whatever other faults people place on Bing, the porn aspect has to be the biggest obstacle to pushing it in schools.

  • by Baki (72515) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:34AM (#44099889)

    I tried to use bing for a while, out of concern that google may know too much of me (already using gmail and calendar, at least my searches should go elsewhere). But the search results are just too bad, alas.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It appears that a troubled Steve Ballmer when and spoke with a longtime friend Mr Gates about his corporate troubles.

    Gates appears to have suggested a strategy along the lines of putting their product in schools as being an old-time strategy that worked well...

    Back in the day, MS was very present in my elementary, JR High and High schools with products and support.

  • by c (8461)

    Why would ad removal on the search engine be even slightly useful as a marketing hook?

    Or, to rephrase the question, why would a school which gives a crap about kids seeing ads not already be running ad blocking software everywhere possible? It shouldn't be more complicated than a check mark in their existing porn/malware/Facebook filters...

  • by szyzyg (7313) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @12:28PM (#44101803)

    I always like to point out that in Scotland a Bing is a spoil heap, it's the pile of dirt that you take out of the ground and discard to get at the minerals you actually want, worst name for a search engine ever.

    • by Bill Dimm (463823)

      in Scotland a Bing is a spoil heap...worst name for a search engine ever

      Good point. It is hard to trademark a name that is merely descriptive [wikipedia.org], so Bing was a terrible choice. ;)

  • Bing needs to create a different algorithm that filters results by credibility of topic. They also need to keep it educational; no Facebook, no Instagram, whatever.

    It would be nice to see Bing set up access to university-level research.

    Ad-Removal Hook won't help since their service and product is sub-par. Obviously, Microsoft doesn't see it that way though.

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