I love Bing. I love the Rewards program, I love the way it looks, the way it presents the news to me, and yes, I love the search results, too. Bing is a search engine that cares about design and aesthetic, and not only is it better than Google, at least in my opinion, it's also so much less invasive than Google's increasingly creepy services.
It seems like most people who take the time to really use Bing and adjust to what it has to offer feel the same way that I do. But it's still facing an uphill climb, and there's a lot of hostility some places. Thanks to Windows 8, though, 2012 really could be the year that starts to change.
Windows 8 is going to be the first time that Microsoft has really integrated its online services with its operating system on the same scale as Google or Apple. For the first time, some of Microsoft's really superb, and sometimes obscure, services will be front and center.
Microsoft's Online Services Devision gets a lot of hate from some investors, and up until now that's kind of been a fair assessment; as far as returns go, it's just been a massive money sink. Yet Microsoft has held on to it, steadily improving and expanding, and pouring even more money into it. Microsoft is one of the few companies that has the resources and willpower for the long term, and there's no better example of that than its online offerings.
This article could really apply to any of Microsoft's online offerings, but I'm focusing on Bing because it's really the most visible one, the 'gateway drug' to Microsoft's other services, and also because Bing seems to be the one with the most potential to bring in a continuous stream of revenue.
Windows 8 will finish the job Microsoft's massive marketing campaigns started: it will make Bing the most visible and ubiquitous search engine by making it front and center on the world's most popular OS.
Sure, Google will offer their alternatives to Windows 8 users, but I really doubt that they'll be able to tie them together nearly as neatly as Microsoft's services are going to be tied together. A combination of the OS itself, Internet Explorer, a plethora of apps, and even hardware, will ensure that.
By getting Windows 8 users hooked on Bing, Microsoft can continue making a profit long after customers buy their copy of Windows, and by offering a great alternative to Google, they'll even be able to draw in users of other platforms. Heck, considering the level of hate between Apple and Google, I really wouldn't be surprised to see Bing become the default search provider in Safari at some point in the near future, and SkyDrive already works great on both OS X and iOS.
Now, all that might seem a little hard to swallow to some people. I realize that there are a lot of skeptics when it comes to Bing, and just about every day there's an article somewhere that calls it Microsoft's folly. But consider this: it doesn't even matter if Google is the de-facto verb for 'search,' not when Bing is totally integrated to every device you use. And when it comes to mobile, even if Windows Phone stays a fairly niche product (which is unlikely), Microsoft can easily establish an extremely lucrative base with it.
Finally, keep in mind that Microsoft isn't the only one who needs to see Bing succeed; you do, too, whether you know it or not. No other search engine has been able to go head to head with Google on the same scale as Bing has (that probably has a lot to do with the amount of money Microsoft has spent on it, but that's beside the point), and the fact is we need a solid alternative to Google. Competition is good - anyone remember IE6?
Image via: GNT