Bing’s Bumpy Start

Bing is now officially off and running — as of Tuesday night when Microsoft held a gala of sorts, custom lighting Seattle’s iconic Space Needle and shining a blue “search” light into the clear June sky over the city’s downtown.

“Want to shoot you a quick note that today is the first day that Bing is fully available,” a company spokesman said in an e-mail to on Wednesday morning.

Still, as with the introduction of any new, or updated, technology product, not all about the rollout has been going smoothly.

For instance, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) confirmed Tuesday that it was already working to fix a bug that caused Microsoft’s new Bing search engine to make itself the default on all PCs running Internet Explorer (IE) 6. What was worse, according to reports, once Bing had taken over the default spot in the browser, users could no longer manually reset the search engine option back to their own choice.

“We are aware of the issue with Bing on machines running IE6 and are investigating a solution,” the Microsoft spokesman said, adding, “This issue is not impacting IE7 and IE8 users.”

In fact, Microsoft discovered that the problem was on its own servers and it fixed the problem overnight Tuesday to Wednesday.

After months of leaks and hype buildup, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer revealed Microsoft’s new search engine — dubbed Bing — at last week’s D: All Things Digital Conference.

Microsoft even launched Bing — for most users anyway — ahead of schedule. It premiered on Monday, two days earlier than promised. At the same time, Microsoft also delivered a mobile version of Bing.

From there, however, cracks in the new façade started to show, bit by bit. Tuesday, other complaints arose that Bing makes it all too simple to enable access to porn, even prompting users to turn off the engine’s “safe search” capabilities.

Until Microsoft found and fixed the IE6 problem, it had the potential to become an outright sore thumb for users the company is desperate to impress with its new search engine.

According to Web metrics tracking firm Net Applications, IE6 is the third most-used browser — used on 17 percent of PCs worldwide. That puts it behind only Firefox 3 (20 percent) and IE7 (41 percent) and almost twice that of IE8 (9 percent).

The company is hoping that its latest attempt to impact the search marketplace will finally help it catch up to rivals Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO).

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