Microsoft Corp. has finally reached a long-sought and expensive goal – its Bing search engine now ranks second behind Google in the Internet’s most lucrative market. Bing and Microsoft’s other websites fielded 2.75 billion search requests in the U.S. during December, catapulting in front of Yahoo Inc. for the first time in the jockeying for runner up to Google Inc., according to statistics released Wednesday by comScore Inc. Bing’s December volume translated into a 15.1 percent share of the U.S. search traffic, comScore said. Yahoo processed 2.65 billion search requests, representing 14.5 percent of the U.S. market. Google remained Internet’s go-to place for information, with 12 billion U.S. requests in December. That works out to a 65.9 percent market share. Other research firms track the Internet search market. But comScore’s numbers matter the most to industry analysts and the companies trying to attract queries so they can make more money from the ads that appear alongside the results. Google’s dominance of online search is the main reason it has established itself as the Internet’s most profitable company. Analysts have expected Microsoft and Yahoo to flip-flop their positions in Internet search since they announced a partnership in July 2009. The 10-year agreement has enabled Yahoo to save money by relying on Microsoft to provide the bulk of its search technology. Microsoft wanted the deal so it would have billions more search requests to analyze each year, giving it a better chance to learn about people’s tendencies and preferences.
Microsoft Corp has put its talks with media companies about an online subscription service for TV shows and movies on hold, according to people familiar with the discussions. The technology giant had been in intense talks with potential programming partners for over a year and was hoping to roll out the service in the next few months. But it pulled back after deciding that the licensing costs were too high for the business model Microsoft envisaged, according to these people. Early versions of Microsoft’s TV service included a range of advanced features such as being able to change channels with voice and motion control. Similar to Netflix Inc, Microsoft’s service also would have allowed users the option of paying a monthly fee for a package of programming from someone other than a local cable or satellite TV company. But unlike Netflix, Microsoft had hoped to offer current shows and live networks on its service, which made it a much higher cost proposition. Microsoft is still working closely with the TV business to distribute shows over the Web, but rather than playing a role in helping consumers replace their cable TV packages it is focusing on delivering programming via its Xbox gaming system to existing cable subscribers
Google’s methods for internet search and ranking of websites are being scrutinised by the Texas’s Attorney General – yet another case of authorities closely looking at the core business of the company. The Attorney General’s move comes in the wake of allegations from small companies that they were not fairly ranked by Google when their names come up during the Internet search. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, which is conducting an antitrust review of Google,” the search engine major’s Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison has said. In a blog posted on Friday, Harrison pointed out that the firm works hard to explain its approach to Net search and how its ranking works. Abbott’s office has asked for information about a number of companies, including British price comparison site Foundem, which claim that Google’s algorithms demote their site “because they are a direct competitor to our search engine“. According to the blog, Foundem is backed by ICOMP, an entity that is largely funded by Microsoft. Going by reports, the European Commission is also looking into a complaint against Google.
Apple Inc unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its Web-to-TV device on Wednesday, stepping up a battle with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for control of the digital living room. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also rolled out a completely overhauled lineup of iPod media players and the latest version of iTunes, with a new logo that does away with the outdated image of a CD. The new Apple TV device, which accesses content from the Internet and plays it on a TV, will sell for USD 99. It is a quarter the size of the original, which cost USD 229. The 4-inch-square device allows users to rent TV shows for 99 cents and first-run films for USD 4.99. Earlier models, which allowed users to only buy shows, failed to find a major audience. Alongside renting TV shows and movies, Apple TV users will be able to stream content from video rental site Netflix Inc. Analysts were lukewarm toward the device, though some saw it as only a small, initial step in a much more ambitious plan
Google’s YouTube video service saw record levels of traffic last month, according to research firm ComScore. The web research company said that in the month of May, YouTube served up roughly 14.6 videos in the US alone, a total of more than 100 video views per person. Both numbers were monthly records for the site in a single month. In total, ComScore estimated that users in the US viewed nearly 34 billion online videos, with YouTube and other Google sites accounting for almost 43 per cent of all views. ComScore found that 183 million unique viewers watched online video in May with each user averaging 186 million views. Of the total load, Google sites claimed 144 million users and an average of 101.2 views per person. A distant second on the rankings was Hulu. The commercial video site logged roughly 1.2 billion video views to claim a 3.5 per cent market share. Microsoft was third on the list with 642 million views, followed by Vevo and Viacom Digital video services.
Microsoft on Tuesday introduced the latest update to its plucky come-from-behind search engine, Bing, offering specialized results for music, TV, movies, and games. On the music front, Bing now offers playable search results. The feature is similar to what Google introduced last October, but Google is dependent on partnerships, which has created some problems. Lala was acquired by Apple, which discontinued the service on May 31, and iLike (owned by MySpace) only lets you play the song once before relegating you to a 30-second sample on subsequent visits. Microsoft, on the other hand, has its own music licensing deals for its Zune Marketplace service, and some of these deals have now been extended to Bing, giving you unlimited full-length playbacks of more than 5 million songs. If you like the song, you can then purchase the MP3 from the Zune Marketplace over the Web–a first for Microsoft. (Previously, you had to launch the Zune application.) You can also purchase it from iTunes or Amazon. Google only lets you buy from its partner iLike. Bing’s music search results beat Google in some other ways as well: artist results contain embedded biographies, a list of albums and – where available – lyrics licensed from LyricFind.
Google will no longer allow staff to use Windows on their machines because of security fears, according to reports
Google is phasing out the use of Microsoft‘s Windows operating systems on its company computers because of ongoing concerns about security, the Financial Times reports.
Google staff will instead be asked to use Apple’s OS X operating system, or an open-source Linux platform, as the search giant tries to close the security loopholes that made it possible for Chinese hackers to gain access to email accounts. Security experts believe the hackers exploited a loophole in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser to hack in to the Gmail accounts of human rights activists and Chinese dissidents.
“We’re not doing any more Windows,” one Google employee told the FT. “It’s a security effort.” Another said staff had been “moved away from Windows PCs. following the China hacking attacks”.
Google, which employees around 10,000 people worldwide, is already encouraging new joiners to opt for Linux or OS X. “Linux is open source and we feel good about it,” another member of staff told the FT. “Microsoft, we don’t feel so good about.”
Google has not commented specifically on the rumours. “We’re always working to improve the efficiency of our business, but we do not comment on specific operational matters,” said the company in a statement.
Microsoft has also refused to comment on the speculation.
Those members of staff who wish to continue using Windows on their machine will need clearance from “quite senior levels”, according to the FT, but employees would have been more upset if Google had banned Macs running OS X rather than PCs running Windows.
The move highlights a growing tension between Google and Microsoft, which are competing in an increasing number of areas. Google is launching its own computer operating system, Chrome OS, to go head-to-head with Windows, while Google and Microsoft both have their own mobile operating systems. The recent launch of Microsoft’s Bing search engine was an attempt to claw back some market share from Google, while both companies offer free web-based email and instant-messaging services.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that Linux and Mac OS X are more secure than Windows, but I do think it’s reasonable to claim that they’re safer because of the much smaller number of attacks that target the platforms,” said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with security specialists Sophos. “It’s a bit like deciding where to go on holiday – Baghdad or Bournemouth? You can come to a sticky end in either, but I know where I would rather be to reduce my chances.
“Furthermore, with Google Chrome OS around the corner, this could be the first step towards Google proving that an enterprise company can survive without much dependency on Microsoft at all.”