RealTime IT News

Microsoft's Bing Goes Live Ahead of Schedule

Users impatient to try out Microsoft's new search engine don't have to wait until Wednesday after all. Bing is live now.

In fact, bloggers began reporting that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing search engine was live by about midnight Pacific time Sunday night.

For instance, Enthusiast site LiveSide reported on its blog that "at least some" other countries worldwide were online with Bing by 12:46 a.m. Monday.

Additionally, Bing was supposed to switchover handling of Live Search requests on June 3. However, users going to Live Search are already being rerouted to Bing.

Meanwhile, the Bing site is currently clearly marked "preview," although the company does not explain precisely what that means.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced Bing onstage at the D: All Things Digital Conference last week in Carlsbad, Calif. The company is holding its breath and hoping that Bing will be cool, catchy, and sticky -- and ultimately help them pick up a few percentage points of market share in the search engine horse race.

Targeting four areas with decision engine

In that regard, the company aims to reposition Bing as being a "decision engine" rather than a "search engine." Part of the technology Microsoft's engineers built into the Bing engine came from the acquisition last year of Powerset, which specialized in semantic search technologies. In addition to providing generic search results, Bing is launching with special attention on four target result areas -- shopping, local businesses, travel, and health.

Only time will tell if the service lives up to the hype that's built up since word of Bing -- then codenamed Kumo -- first leaked out last winter.

Bing lies at the core of Microsoft's latest strategy to get a leg up on Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), as well as on Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) after its bid for the second place search vendor last year failed.

An e-mail to Microsoft spokespeople for comment was not returned by press time.