When Microsoft launched Bing in 2009, geeks across the Internet joked that the name must stand for “Because It’s Not Google.” But that very connotation came under question last week when Google accused its search engine archival of copying its result listings.
The claim came after the California-based Web behemoth ran a test that, it says, demonstrates that some of Bing’s search results came directly from Google. The company temporarily altered some of its algorithms so that, for example, a search for “mbzrxpgjys,” which would normally produce zero or a few irrelevant results, turned up a link to the website of Research in Motion. After a while, Google said, an identical search on Bing started producing the same result.
Microsoft did not deny the claim, but said that Google’s results are one of the more than 1,000 signals it uses to compile its own search listings. While Microsoft’s conduct is not illegal, according to Danny Sullivan, editor of the tech blog Search Engine Land, it means Bing increasingly looks like Google, depriving Internet users of the benefits of being able to choose among search engines, each with their own unique “search engine voice.”