By Will Anderson
In 2009 (the year of our lord) Microsoft rebranded their seminal search engine, Window Live Search, as Bing. David Webster, the marketing strategist at Microsoft, originally proposed the name “Bang” for the search engine, but it was rejected by Microsoft because “Bang” could not be used as a verb for describing the use of a search engine, similar to how people would say “just Google it.” Many were dissatisfied by the idea of having to say “just Bang it,” so the name Bing was chosen. Things were looking good for Microsoft early on; in 2009 (the year of our lord) they struck a deal with Yahoo in which Bing would acquire Yahoo’s user interface in exchange for 88% of search advertising revenue accrued in the first five years of operation. But you’re not reading this to find out what companies Microsoft partnered with to make Bing such a massive success, you’re reading this to find out if Bing is a good search engine, and I’m happy to announce that it is.
The experience of using the Bing search engine is so cathartic words cannot accurately describe how it feels. Have you ever had a question and wondered if someone online knows the answer? Well, now you don’t have to wonder. By typing your question into the Bing search engine and pressing the enter key on your keyboard, Microsoft will personally find the answer to your question and present it to you on your computer screen. It’s so convenient! I tried it the other day on my neighbor’s Google Chromebook and shockingly even the Google Chromebook can operate the Bing search engine. So, what kind of questions can you type into the Bing search engine? I decided to find out myself, so I went to Bing dot com and typed “How is the weather in my home town today?” Bing told me that it was currently 40 degrees Fahrenheit! I was shocked to find out that the humidity in my hometown was 65 percent. I was pretty confident in my ability to Bing (not Bang) my questions after finding out the weather, so I decided to try something a little more advanced. I asked Bing, “Can I send emails with Bing?” The first link Bing provided me was a website that allowed me to email Bing’s customer service department, but nothing on how to send emails using the Bing search engine. I am left to assume that it is impossible to use Bing to send emails.
Now that we’ve established that you can Bing (not Bang) questions, but you cannot Bing (not Bang) emails, you might be wondering what else you can use Bing for. To answer this question, I typed “What can Bing do?” into the Bing search engine. According to cbsnews dot com, you can search for specific file types using Bing by typing “contains:filetype” and the file type you are searching for in the search bar. So for example if you are looking for a specific .pdf file on the Internet, you will be able to find it by including contains:.pdf in your search, though I can’t verify if this will work because the cbsnews article was published in 2010 (the year of our lord) and Bing may have updated their search settings by then. I am also not an experienced enough Binger (not Banger) to test it myself.
Bing is available in 38 different languages, which is a great resource for anyone trying to learn a new language, but I have to warn you, even though Bing can display its search results in Latin, it cannot actually search for specific Latin phrases. Bing’s primary source of revenue comes from advertisements, which means that anyone with a connection to the Internet can use the Bing search engine for free and it’s still profitable to Microsoft and its shareholders. Unfortunately, Bing isn’t perfect. Bing has come under some criticism for censoring certain search results in order to comply with censorship laws imposed by the Chinese government. According to a 2014 article by The Economist, Bing has in the past censored search results containing certain simplified Chinese characters regardless of where in the world they were searched from. Within mainland China, Bing has skewed search results to prioritize articles published by government-run news outlets. Overall, Bing is a worthwhile search engine, but it has come under valid criticism regarding unnecessary censorship. I would recommend Bing to friends and I look forward to Binging (not Banging) in the future.