Friday, 5 June 2009

5 copied features of Microsoft Bing

Microsoft has admitted publicly that it did a poor job of making people aware of the features in its old search engine. With the rollout of Bing, it’s becoming crystal clear just how unfamiliar people were with Live Search.

Features that had long existed in Live Search are suddenly getting noticed and being branded as "new." Here are five examples.

Smart motion previews
Internet safety experts are up in arms, according to a Fox News story, because Bing’s video search lets visitors preview videos by hovering their cursors over a thumbnail -- potentially providing a way for children to watch porn without having to navigate to a porn site.

But, according to Bing Search GM Mike Nichols, who responded to the controversy in a blog post, the feature has actually existed for “well more than a year.”

Photos on the home page
In its adulatory review, the WSJ said, “ evokes the cover of a glossy magazine with a stunning photo that takes over the page. This photo, usually slightly off-beat and somewhat alluring, changes every day.” Microsoft introduced photo-heavy front pages on Live Search in June 2008.

Bing 411
TechCrunch said that Bing 411-- a feature that lets users call a number to get local information -- was a “direct swipe” at a similar Google product and had been “lost in all the excitement” around the launch of Bing. Other publications also covered the supposed “introduction” of Bing 411.

But the product had existed under the name Live Search 411 since October 2007.

Bing Mobile
Microsoft got lots of attention for the roll-out of the mobile version of its search engine. But by the company’s own admission, the mobile version did not include any new features.

Local Business Center
SEORoundtable, which also points out how Bing is getting praised for old features in Live Search, notes that “people are first noticing that Bing has a Local Business Center.” But as SEORoundtable notes it already existed in Live Search -- all that’s new is the URL.