Bing! Bang! Bust! Alpha!

Microsoft is teaming ! up with Wolfram Alpha, according to the BBC.

    Wolfram Alpha aims to answer questions directly, rather than display a list of links like a search engine.

    The “computational knowledge engine” is the brainchild of British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram.

    It will be used to bolster Bing’s results in areas such as nutrition, health and mathematics.

    The partnership will initially be rolled out in the US.

    Bing has been gradually grabbing market share from other since its launch in May.

    Figures from Experian Hitwise suggest its market share in the US rose from 8.96% in September to 9.57% in October.

The same story points out that is over 70% of market share in the US.

I don’t think this is going to help Microsoft conquer Google. Jeffrey reported on Wolfram Alpha when it hit the news a few months ago and I played with it a bit, then I went back to Google. I suspect I’m not atypical.

I was thinking about this while watching the local flock of geese fly off to practice their bombing runs and remembered what my Windows 2000 Server instructor said (this was so long ago that I can’t remember what DACL means any more):

“Microsoft writes great applications, but they can’t write utilities.”

(He said that while pointing out that, for Win2K, Microsoft had abandoned writing their own defrag utility and had, instead, licensed Diskkeeper Light.)

Wolfram is kind of fun and I think it can be very useful for persons doing research, but it did not help me, for example, find the definition of “DACL,” as this shows (by the way, the Wolfram Alpha folks have dressed up the site a lot since it was first unveiled).

Failed Wolfram Alpha Search for DACL
(Click for a larger image.)

It occurs to me that a search is much more utility that application.

Bing! has also had some security problems in its “cashback” feature. Microsoft responded in what I would consider a fairly typical way; they threatened the person who discovered the problems with a lawsuit for talking about them. The Guardian covered the story here (if you follow the link, be sure to read the first comment).

At least one person is resisting assimilation into the Google Borg sort of on principle. Victor Keegan writes at the Guardian of his experiences testing other search engines that, frankly, I’ve never heard of. But I’m hardly an “early adapter.” If I use something other than Google, I go to Dogpile, which was my first choice before Google came along.

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