Back in 1998, Segey Brin and Lawrence Page, a pair of boffins at Stanford University, conceived an idea for a large-scale search engine. With the size of the precious interwebs growing at a terrifying pace, the need was arising for a search engine that was faster, more accurate and less to work to keep up to date with the latest internet additions.
They named it Google, a common spelling of the word googol which means 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and a word that they felt fitted 'well with [their] goal of building very large scale search engines'.
Years later and Google has long ruled supreme in the world of internet search. So ubiquitous to our daily lives has it become that we no longer 'search' for things, we 'Google' for them. So what if a genuine contender came along to challenge Google's authority? Would we welcome it as a refreshing change, or instantly dismiss it, assuming that there's no challenging what has become possibly the most internet-synonymous brand name ever created?
Earlier this year, Microsoft released their new search engine, Bing. The company's last attempt at a search engine, Livesearch was just about the biggest non-event since the millennium bug that threatened to open portals to depths of hell at the stroke of midnight on that (un)fateful new years eve. For this reason, many people, including those the majority of those here at bit-tech, were pretty unexcited by the prospect of paying the slightest bit of attention to it.
Some time later, the Bing team got in touch with Dennis and added a microsite onto bit-tech and one or two other tech sites in a bid to raise awareness of their new tool. This led to the opportunity for us to chat with some of the tech guys in the Bing team and find out what they've been doing to ensure that it doesn't turn into another big whimper such as Live Search.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that they haven't been resting on their laurels. In fact, it looks like they might actually have a product capable of challenging the mighty online giant. This being the case, we thought we'd pit the two against each other and see how Bing stood up to the challenge.
At the time of writing, the UK version of Bing isn't quite finished which necessitates using the US version. To keep things fair, we'll use the US version of Google too. We spoke to the Bing guys about how the UK site was going to compare to the US and it seems that they're not sure about how many features will migrate over to our sunny island. We've been assured though that the US version is a fair approximation of what to expect once the UK version sheds its beta status. What's important here though is to find out whether the new search engine stands a chance. It sure sounded good when talking to enthusiastic tech team, so let's find out for ourselves.