The Inevitable But Annoying Rise of Bing

We all hoped it’d fail, but it looks like Bing is here to stay. Like everything Microsoft seems to do, it became popular without anyone really knowing why, and being slightly rubbish. If you need an example of other things Microsoft have made popular whilst also being rubbish, there’s Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, .NET… the list goes on, and includes everything Microsoft has ever done, with the only exception being the Xbox. Somehow they got that right. But it does now have Internet Explorer, which makes me want to hate it.

Where do I start by describing how annoying Bing is? There’s those awful spine-shudderingly terrible examples of product placement that have ruined TV episodes and films, like this incredibly awkward moment in Hawai Five-0:

And a terrible bit in the Amazing Spider Man where Peter Parker uses Bing as the audience gawps and goes “Why isn’t he using Google?” as if that’s more unrealistic than a man swinging through the city using cobwebs:

Spiderman uses Bing
Image Source:

Google is so ingrained into our collective conscience that to see anyone use anything else seems completely unnatural, which is why it stands out a mile. It’s even in our vocabulary. “I’ll just Google it” someone might say, no matter what search engine they’re actually using. A non-technical friend of mine even called a website’s own internal search a “Google”. It’s a word that has now replaced search.

Google is the most popular search engine, and it’s still a long way ahead of Bing. But Bing is trying very hard, not only with those terrible example of product placement, but by making it the default search engine in Internet Explorer, and by making Internet Explorer the default (or only) browser on all Microsoft’s new devices.

As predicted, Microsoft’s Surface tablet would do okay, helped by some pretty good advertising that actually make it look surprisingly cool:

Also, of course there’s the new range of Windows phones, which again are helped by cool adverts where celebrities tell you how cool their new Windows phone is. This presumably really appeals to people who want to be “alternative” now everyone and their dog has an iPhone. A friend of mine who used to be the world’s biggest Apple fanboy is actually now ditching his iPhone in favour of the new Nokia Windows phone. Times are changing.

So Windows phones sales are increasing which have Internet Explorer as their default browser, and Bing as a button right there on the phone itself. So it’s no wonder we’re seeing more people use Bing, and Google’s market share dipping.

Google is still 90% market share

Okay Google is still pretty far ahead. It has roughly 90% of the search market, which is waaay far ahead of Bing. But if the current trends continue and Google continues to tumble, Bing (currently roughly 5%) will be the most popular search engine by 2016.

What if Google kept losing market share
Image Source: Guardian Online.

Ask a web developer which browser he hates the most and he’ll say Internet Explorer (probably followed by a 6, 7 or 8 if he wants to get specific). But unfortunately it comes as standard on all the devices we mentioned earlier, and it’s not even possible to change the browser on Windows mobile to the usual web developer’s favourite, Chrome or Firefox. Plus how many users will be bothered to change this? Only technical people like us will even mess around with default applications on a mobile device. Which leaves more people in the world using Internet Explorer, and therefore Bing. Great.

(2 Posts)

This post has been written by David Ball, a web developer and social media fanatic working at Silktide. Recently, David has been researching web accessibility to improve Silktide's automated website testing software,


  • tom

    You could not be more wrong. I am not a fan of bing either but saying that everything that Microsoft has produced is rubbish is way out of line. I wonder if you criticise everything you develop, too. There are actually people working at Microsoft who care to develop things for users and make their products better.

  • Cristiano Insola

    this statement so rough shows the cultural thickness of the writer: “If you need an example of other things Microsoft have made popular whilst also being rubbish, there’s Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, .NET…”

  • capnfabs

    The trend-line you’ve gotten from the Guardian should simply not be used. It’s a gross over-simplification of the real situation.

  • Jan-Willem van Cappellen

    True, but bashing is easy. .NET is actually really good. I got the feeling microsoft found their groove lately with Windows 8, Windows phone etc.

  • slapstickj

    Bing’s image search is better than Google.

  • Sean Meyer

    Personally I like Bing way more than Google for searching but then I’ve never been one to choose something just because it’s what the majority of people seem to like and/or are using. As for your bashing of Microsoft and it’s products I think you’re just griping for the sake of griping. Yes I also happen to be a Windows fan and I don’t particularly care for Apple products and that is based on personal experience with products from both companies. I haven’t had the chance to work with Windows 8 yet nor do I have a Windows phone (instead I have an Android phone which I love). As for IE being the default browser on all of their systems, well it’s been that way since the beginning. I have yet to find a version of Windows that has any other browser even installed let alone set as the default browser. I don’t know about on Windows 8 or Windows Phone but in any other version of Windows it’s not really that difficult to install a new browser of your choice and set it as the default browser. Yes, most regular users won’t/can’t be bothered to do this but still it’s not difficult at all. I find it hard to believe that even on Windows phones they have it set up so that you cannot install any other browser.

    I think you’re way off on your bashing of Windows. Where’s your bashing of Apple and how they do things? Just because I don’t care for Apple products it doesn’t mean that I completely hate them nor does it mean that I don’t respect them. Both Apple and MIcrosoft have their good points and bad points.

  • Mark Ball

    “Cultural thickness”? Ha. Nice phrasing there. I guess it is sort of a sweeping statement, but it made me chuckle

  • Art Lindsey III

    “Google is so ingrained into our collective conscience”

    The word you are looking for is “consciousness.”

    “Conscience” is a completely different word with an entirely different meaning. Nothing quite like getting obviously biased tech analysis from a functional illiterate. Run along now, junior. You don’t want late for gym class.

  • I had to stop after one of the most rediculous opening paragraphs I have read in a long time.

  • Alternative title: “Regular” people suck because they use stuff I don’t like to use.

  • “We all hoped it’d fail” !!!???? It can’t be we… I didn’t hope for anything like that.

    Oh, and BTW as an SEO manager I can say one thing: Google is currently cutting the branch on which it is sitting with all its filters and search results tampering.

    “Only technical people like us will even mess around with default applications on a mobile device. Which leaves more people in the world using Internet Explorer, and therefore Bing. Great.”

    You got that one right. More people will be using Bing because it is their default application. This is why you still see traffic from IE6 in 2013. What is the fuss all about? Its another search engine driving traffic to a website. Good for the website. Maybe you should start telling your clients that you are against Bing and Microsoft et al and should be setting a script on your websites refusing access to all Bing generated visits, hence Bing generated opportunities.

  • I have been a .net fan, esp DNN for a long time. People bash MS because of the massive marketshare. They are the easy target, so it is cool to be anti-establishment and try and fight “the man” just because of you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything, right?

  • Consider this an internet “brohug”. I used to say Everyone else is a neophyte compared to me.

  • Can I admit even though I was working for Yahoo, I used Bing, ever since the launch party with Olivia Munn, I was in, and I can’t stand her.

  • I agree with their awkward marketing, but not about the rest. It’s not some evil company trying to harm us.

  • Toby Newell

    …you DO NOT want to BE late for YOUR gym class…

    If you want to be a pedantic prick.

    It helps if you get the pedantic bit right.

    Otherwise you are left looking like…

  • Leave Comments

    That is great, I had to laugh when he said “bing it”. I seriously doubt that will ever make it into normal daily talk. Good one. Bing gives crap results. They have aggregate sites and all the ask dot com and sites I hate on the top. I am using it to get rewards for 15 minutes a day and I am growing to hate it more with the terrible results it serves up. There are many sites they do not even show you on results that are on top with google.

  • shining.genji

    it seems like every few weeks Bing somehow becomes my default search engine. i loath having products pushed on me, especially the last time this happened with Bing, it somehow disabled my ability to just click on Google instead. whatever i did, it kept using Bing, until i deleted my cookies.

    and tossed my cookies, too.

    i have resolved to not use any Microsoft products from now on. i’m already using Firefox.

    but i’ve decided to switch to Linux..