Everyone is talking about Bing today–well, everyone who isn’t too busy watching Google do the Wave. If you haven’t been paying attention, Microsoft is about to spend $100M to market an upgrade of its web search engine, rebranding it from Live to Bing (by way of Kumo).
I’m reserving judgment about it until I have a chance to play with it myself–and I assume I’ll have to wait until next week just like everyone else (unless any kind insider cares to offer me a sneak preview). But it is interesting to see how Microsoft is positioning Bing as a “decision engine” rather than a search engine, with messaging at least mildly suggestive of HCIR. At least according to their marketing, their focus is on organizing results, simplifying tasks, and supporting decision making.
In any case, Google also claims to organize the world’s information–and it’s even starting to offer users limited query refinement capabilities. If Microsoft is going to make headway on this round, I suspect they’ll have to deliver a significantly better experience than Google at the task level for at least a couple of common tasks. The areas they tout in their marketing are travel, health, and shopping. It certainly wouldn’t be hard for Microsoft to beat Google on all three–note the overlap with areas where Google isn’t good enough. But it remains to be seen if they will.