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Microsoft’s Bing search engine aims to rival Google

Microsoft stepped up its efforts to cut into the search dominance of Google, launching a public preview version of its widely praised Bing search site on Monday.

The site offers several features that are not automatically available on Google such as instant excerpts that allow users to see the contents of a page without actually clicking on it and a sidebar detailing related searches.

The Bing home page is also fancier than Google’s famously spare design and shows a picture of hot air balloons flying over a craggy desert landscape in Cappadocia, Turkey. Like Google, the page offers links to specific search categories like news, video, shopping, maps and travel, and also includes a link to Microsoft’s cash-back search rewards programme.

Microsoft currently trails far behind Google in the search market, which is the most lucrative advertising format on the internet. Google has 64 per cent of the US market, compared to 21 per cent for Yahoo and just eight per cent for Microsoft, according to recent figures from web tracking firm Comscore.

The Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, first unveiled Bing last Thursday at a California technology conference and the early reactions have been very positive.

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