I don't know where I get these titles from but I thought I would take a look at Microsoft's strategy for the internet and see how Bing (Microsoft's new replacement to Windows Live Search) integrates into this. With Microsoft not launching Internet Explorer (IE) with the new release of Windows (I can hear web developers cheering across the globe), it seems that they are having to rethink their positioning online. While from a business sense, it made perfect sense for Microsoft to bundle IE with Windows, it was ruled by the European commission that they were monopolising the market, and therefore not being fair to competitors.
We all know that Microsoft has needed to rethink it's offering for a while, as their entire digital strategy falls around the sole fact that IE comes as standard and they can showcase all their products by using IE as a portal (For example Windows live mail, Windows Live Search, etc). At present, this was the only way Microsoft could compete with the big guns such as Google, Mozilla, etc. Now that this ruling is in place, what can Microsoft can do to firefight this predicament?
Well, their first answer to this is to tackle the search market with the launch of their new search Engine Bing. According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, they are looking at investing 5-10% of their operating income to invest into Search which will translate to anything up to $11billion (Patricio Robles, Econsultancy) - that's not a bad budget to kick-off a project. In fact, I wouldn't mind that budget at all.
Looking at Bing
So let's analyse Bing. Firstly the name is short and concise and is good step forward in my mind. In the same way you associate shoddy workmanship to a Lada, most people tend to think the same of Microsoft when online. Their change to a "trendy" name (in the loosest form of the phrase) not only disengages them from their previous brand equity, but also brings them into the new era of sites. You could potentially hear people say"Bing it" in the same way as "Google it." It may not happen, but if it did, at least it would sound good (as opposed to "Windows Live it").
Bing is also much nicer to look at compared to its precedessor. With an aesthetic image that changes daily and a clear, intuitive, Google approach to the interface, it definately ticks a few boxes upfront.
So the next question is do the results step up when they need to?
Let's take a look - the design again, is very clear - again, almost Googlesque, but why reinvent the wheel? So with regards to design and layout, you can't complain too much about the way it looks. It does what it says on the tin.
So are the results valid?
In my opinion, no. I was very disappointed with the results that were displayed. After the hype I was expecting some groundbreaking intuition within the results, but I was delivered less than adequate information for what I was looking for. There were some interesting results that I haven't seen before such as PDA views for some websites; but let's face it, you don't need these unless you're actually on a PDA.
A basic search for small-medium equity websites (e.g. Search term "Sticky Panda" for the Creative Agency Sticky Panda) delivers a correct top result but little related information. This only seems to be the case for websites above a certain criteria as a few other searches seemed not to make the cut at all.
There were also issues regarding the applicability within the ordering of the results. Items that I felt were more relevant to my need were bumped down due to what looked like a PageRank/hierarchy structure. So the slightest mention of a search term on a high traffic website such as the BBC would automatically get placed above lesser authoritative sites that may actually be more resourceful to the users' need.
Where as the usability and aesthetic design of Bing is well executed, it seems that less time was taken in producing the algorithm(s) driving the results. Microsoft needs to sink a good chunk of their budget into getting this right so that applied results are given at the right time to users, as this is the key to any search engine.
Bing is still in Beta and has a lot of (potential) financial investment available so it is definitely one to watch, but until I have more confidence in the results that I will see, I will not be making the switch from Google.
Photosynth was something that was talked about a couple of years ago and I saw a video of the conference for when Microsoft unveiled this, although haven't seen much of it since. However, looking at it again, it does make me wonder if the lack of exposure is due to the slightly static growth of Silverlight as using the product itself is pretty cool.
Although it can sometimes be a little "juttery" and doesn't seem quite as smooth as Cooliris, it does work pretty well for what it does, especially being able to use hi-res imagery and the ability to stich all your images together.
Microsoft's E3 presentation set the benchmark for Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft's flagship console the Xbox will be incorporating new features such as full body movement, facial, voice and pattern recognition. With the combination of amazing graphics, interaction and potentially party gamplayon top of the exisitng sound online play and marketplace interface (Designed by AKQA), Microsoft must surely be onto a clear market leader. We will have to wait and see though!
Microsft have also released some bad news for the high street games retailer by being the first console that will allow customers to by pass the retail option. Software highlights include Halo: Reach, Final Fantasy XIII, the exclusive Left 4 Dead 2 and of course, a brand new Metal Gear Solid!
The digital age is moving forward, and gaming is just the start...