February 1, 2011
MS Uses Google To Generate Bing Results
So, Microsoft is using the Bing Search Toolbar to monitor the search and browsing habits of computer users. No surprise there. Most all companies that provide toolbars have some degree of monitoring built in. Microsoft gets customer approval for the monitoring by asking whether the user wants to improve the online experience, with the default set to yes. The company does disclose what information is collected. There is notice whether anyone reads it or not. Part of improving that online experience however, is to monitor and analyze search habits generated through other search engines.
Google thought something was up and tested by throwing dummy pages into search results that featured a commonly searched web site. Sure enough, those results started showing up in Bing against similar results. Microsoft says that it doesn't copy Google, which has technical truth to it. The company says it uses a lot of different inputs to generate its search results. Checking how Google answers a query is only one of them. This has never been a secret, though not necessarily promoted.
Microsoft is hardly alone (or random) when it comes to copying technology. It's probably legal for them to do this since there is no copy protection for "sweat of the brow" compilations. But the situation does seem to suggest that Microsoft can't make search work completely on its own. I suppose that's the difference between leading and keeping up. That's a great reputation for a technology company. [MG]