Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why my son is searching through Bing rather than Google?

My eldest, Basheer, is 9 years old. And, as with all 9 year olds he has a inquisitive mind. Along with his 2 younger siblings I get bombarded with all sorts of questions on a minute-by-minute basis. Sometimes it gets annoying especially when I really don’t know the answer to some of the questions. Last week after “how do they catch lions for the zoo?”, “what is the latest mobile brand” and “how big are whales and what do they eat?” I decided I should steer him towards the Internet and let him get his own answers.

Being a Microsoft fan (that’s an understatement!), I immediately thought of Bing as the default search engine (seeing as it is already the default engine on his iPod), but then I thought realistically at what arguments there are for Bing against Google, and that is why I decided to write this post.

To cut to the chase, the main reason I chose Bing over Google for my son is (drumroll!) parental control.

Yes, parental control. Let me explain. When searching the Internet, one (especially kids) usually searches for images on the said subject. Needless to say, the images (and a lot of the written material) returned are not always exactly ‘children material’. For example, take the simple term ‘miniskirt’, when searching using Bing, I get the results shown in the image below, which to me, a parent, are perfect. Now, try this same search using Google, and the results are a lot higher up on the PG rating, to say the least.


The reason Bing is blocking these images is because we live in Kuwait, a Muslim country and under Kuwaiti law, such images are prohibited. Therefore, Bing automatically switches ‘SafeSearch’ on, and you cannot switch it off, believe me, I’ve tried. While this may be frustrating and considered a hampering of freedom for some adults, it is absolutely wonderful for concerned parents.

Google on the other hand does not switch ‘SafeSearch’ on automatically, and if it does, you can easily switch it off with relative ease (yes, even Basheer can do it).

So you see, this is why I guided Basheer to Bing rather than Google when searching on the Internet.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Windows Marketplace and Microsoft Marketing

I was sitting with a dear friend, and we were talking about the new Windows Phone 7,  and the how it compares with the competition (iPhone, Android and Blackberry; notice no mention of Nokia here), and the Apple App Marketplace was mentioned, then my friend suddenly asks: why doesn’t Microsoft have a Windows Marketplace, that would be a great idea?

My immediate reaction was; what the … ?! Microsoft does have a Windows Marketplace and has had one for quite a while now. When I told my friend this he asked, well, why doesn’t Microsoft market this place? Why did I never hear of it before?

To tell you the truth, his was a good question, and it took me some time to realize this; Microsoft really doesn’t market a lot of its work well, doesn’t it? I mean, I grew up hearing the words “Microsoft is nothing but a great big marketing machine” and “the marketing people at Microsoft created this image” and stuff like that, to the point where I started to believe it was true.

But it really isn’t true, not to this point anyway. Microsoft does have a big advertising budget, but IMHO that is only targeted to products it can sell, products like Windows, Office, SharePoint and Windows Phone 7. A lot of other products go unnoticed, simply because nobody knew they even existed. I mean, up until I told everybody, nobody knew Microsoft had their own free antivirus product you can install i.e. Microsoft Security Essentials; operative word is free here.

Other things Microsoft does that go unnoticed are success stories, did you know that MySpace uses SQL Server? As a matter of fact, 440 SQL instances, yes, four-hundred-and-forty instances. Not only that, the total data managed by SQL Server is a whopping 1 petabyte (1 petabyte = 1024 Terrabytes = 1,048,576 Gigabytes), with 130 million users, 300,000 new users every day and 4.4 million concurrent users at peak time. Try that on for scalability and stability!!

Back to the Microsoft Marketplace, not only does Microsoft have a marketplace for Windows, it has one for Office, Mobile and Xbox. Yes, that is correct, four! And here they are:

So you see, Microsoft really is a changed company, and not all for the worse either. What do you think?


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do you ‘bing’?

I know it sounds cheesy, that’s because it probably is. Not because it’s particularly wrong to try to ‘verbify’ it, but because it’s trying too hard to be like Google. The fact is, I do ‘bing’. Yes, you heard right, I use Microsoft’s bing as my primary search engine, and I have done so since the very first day. Actually, I started with ‘Live’, even before the birth of bing.

Having said, I have to say, I have never had to revert back to Google, ever. I have almost always found what I was looking for; except in those extreme cases when I could not, a quick refinement of my search keywords would remedy that immediately. That doesn’t say that I never use Google, I do, but only when the default search engine is set to Google (someone else’s machine); I’m not going to switch to bing just for the sake of switching.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s something particularly wrong with Google, it’s just that I prefer bing. And I would ask everybody to try to use bing for some time, let’s say, a week, just force yourself for a week, and you’ll see for yourself that it is at least as good as Google. In fact, other than the interface, there isn’t much to differentiate between both search engines. That’s primarily because they keep competing for the same features, when one adds one the other does as well.

As for ‘verbifying’ the name, I’m afraid I will continue to use ‘google it’ instead of ‘bing it’ just the same way I say, pass the ‘Kleenex’ or ‘Xerox’ this for me or I ‘Hoovered’ the carpet.

What do you think?