EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.01.11

Microsoft is Just a Skin

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google is peeling Microsoft’s ‘search/decision engine’ off

Peeling wall

Summary: Google alleges that underneath Bong [sic] there is just a lot of scraping of Google search engine results pages (SERPs)

Microsoft copying others is not news at all. There are so many examples of it, some more blatant than others (not to mention many products that are simply rebadged “Microsoft” or get acquired by Microsoft). But the following new accusation suggests that Microsoft is simply ripping off Google not by copying what they do but by literally copying their output, their product, almost verbatim:

Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.

As a result of the apparent monitoring, Bing’s relevancy is potentially improving (or getting worse) on the back of Google’s own work. Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google’s test.

“I’ve spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine,” says Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who oversees the search engine’s ranking algorithm. “I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book.”

Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt for the time being, Tech Radar asks, “Is Bing copying Google’s search results?”

Bing has come under fire after Google claims that the Microsoft-owned search engine has been plagiarising Google’s own search results.

Google has been running a ‘sting operation’ to try and catch Bing in the act of copying Google’s search results and thinks it has succeeded.

Laurel says: “If Bing wins the market and Google goes under, THEN what do they do if Google isn’t around to copy?”

5 years ago, Steve Jobs said that Microsoft “spend[s] over five billion dollars on research and development and all they seem to do is copy Google and Apple.” He probably did not mean “copy” in the sense that we see above. Assuming the allegations turn out to be truthful, Microsoft has gone way too far in this case. It has turned Yahoo! search into a Bong [sic] skin, which is in turn just a front end to Google, at least on the face of it. No shame, eh? And speaking of Yahoo!, Microsoft blames Vista Phony 7 [sic] failure on this marionette it got. And if that’s not bad enough, watch what Microsoft adds to its allegedly scraped-from-Google search results: it adds anti-features to them, essentially introducing more surveillance and spying on users, then bragging about it:

Researchers from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research have found that cursor movements and cursor hovers can detect the relevance of a search result and whether a user may abandon the search.

Whose results are these anyway? Is Bong [sic] just a massive ripoff of Google? And if so, why ever use Bong? To be tracked by Microsoft, even at the level of mousing? By the way, Microsoft makes no computer mice, it just sticks its logo/brand on some. Skin indeed!

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

32 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    February 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Bing is irrelevant. Under 1% of my own search engine hits. How’s TechRights do?

    (Bing image search is actually not worse than Google’s, but they’re both pretty awful.)

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I could check this sort of stuff until December 2009 when we put Varnish (cache) to defend the server. So basically I can’t tell what comes to Techrights from Bong [sic] (statistics gathered for non-cached traffic only), but in schestowitz.com for January 2011 it was:

    Google 7477 10828
    Microsoft Bing 184 295
    Yahoo! 84 141

    David Gerard Reply:

    NewsTechnica.com January 2011 (search engine hits only): Google 97.2% (3738 pages), Yahoo! 1.3% (52 pages), other MS search sites 0.4% (16 pages).

    For me, MS search engines really just aren’t worth a second’s thought. There’s Google and there’s … no-one. That they’re an effective usage monopoly is far from ideal, but then you use other search engines and realise how comprehensively they suck. I think approximately no-one actually uses Bing by choice, only if it’s their system default.

    That said, as I noted, it’s worth a try if you’re having a troublesome image search, because no-one including Google has cracked the image search problem yet.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    What problem is it?

    David Gerard Reply:

    A lack of competition in an area that isn’t a natural monopoly is problematic in itself IMO, even if the company aren’t actually abusing the monopoly. Search doesn’t even have a network effect.

    (This applies in general. Wikipedia could really do with competition, as I have posted, but it does have a network effect to support the monopoly.)

    But then, people use Google for search because it’s actually much better than everyone else. I remember how bad search was before Google. Cuil gave people some insight into how awful search could be, but they’re gone now.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    So is Knol, Wikipedia’s alleged rival. AFAIK, Cuil was former Google engineers.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Knol was never a rival to WIkipedia :-) That notion came entirely from early press coverage of Knol trying to think of something to say about it. Neither Google nor Wikipedia thought Knol was competition.

    Google does a LOT of stuff, and not much of it is actually winners. But when they win (search, GMail, Android) they win big.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Cuil too was called a “Google killah” IIRC.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Yeah … but only by Cuil. http://cuiltheory.wikidot.com/what-is-cuil-theory

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Guess who was “killed” at the end? cuil.com is not even responding right now.

  2. Will said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Gravatar

    My guess is that for most of the diehard Microsofties, there is literally no understanding of how this behavior on Bing’s part could in any way be considered wrong (cheating), problematic, or even an embarrassment. I saw a twitter post from one that basically praised Bing as doing a smart thing in this case.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “I hope this matter goes to court so Groklaw can index the details of discovery.” http://mrpogson.com/2011/02/01/wow-if-m-cant-beat-google-m-copies-google/

    twitter Reply:

    Mr. Pognson points out what might be a real violation. What Microsoft does is clearly a violation of Google’s acceptable use policies. If EULAs have any contractual force, this would be a good place for them to act. Microsoft loves to abuse people through proxies like the BSA for violating Microsoft’s terms of service. They have raided schools and businesses in their perennial search for more money. Perhaps the BSA will target Microsoft with a guns blazing raid. I’m putting in a call to 1-800-RU-LEGIT today!

    On a more serious note, schools taking Gates Foundation donations should carefully consider the ongoing risks of having restricted software on their property. As the nearly ten year old Salon article asks, “does the benefit of school giveaways outweigh the costs paid by schools that are the subject of anti-piracy inquires?” Microsoft’s nasty actions against Los Angles, Philadelphia, Birmingham (England), San Jose, were intended to terrorize other school districts. As last year’s attack on Internet cafes shows, Microsoft is watching every use and is willing to take every dime they imagine they can. There is no longer an excuse to waste money on non free software from Microsoft or anyone else. BSA raids prove that non free software not only violates your privacy and strips you of your rights, it is in Microsoft’s own words, a “legal timebomb” that everyone should clean up. Why bother with Microsoft’s cheap copy of KDE 3.5 (aka Windows 7) when you could just download KDE 4 and all the software you want?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I actually find Vista 7 [sic] to be more similar to KDE 4 (although KDE was first, Microsoft apparently copied).

  3. David Gerard said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Oh, the timing! There goes another Bing exec, Scott Prevost, formerly of Powerset: http://infoworld.com/t/business/microsoft-casualties-rise-ebay-snags-big-bing-exec-116

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Many Microsoft search execs have already moved to eBay.

    twitter Reply:

    Powerset, they were the wikiscrapers. Funny you should mention them, David.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well spotted.

  4. twitter said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Gravatar

    Didn’t Microsoft also use Wikipedia pages for Bong, without attribution? Yes they did. They copied pages then served them up as “reference”. Looks like they gave up that idea.

    We should not be surprised to learn that Microsoft scrapes Google’s results page. Given the similarity of results, no reasonable person could think they don’t. For instance, at least five of the eleven first Bing results for “cats” are also on Google. The order has been changed, perhaps in response to people noticing, and Google throws locality results that Bing would never guess unless someone paid them to advertise. If that’s not statistically improbable enough for such a mundane and common topic, other recent searches yielded virtually identical results. I imagine Google’s proof is better than my informal survey but Microsoft’s copy job is so bad that it is clearly visible.

    What else can be expected from a company that allegedly got its start dumpster diving the source code to basic?

    David Gerard Reply:

    They attributed Wikipedia content fine. We have no problems with people putting Wikipedia content to use for any purpose :-)

    twitter Reply:

    My point was to show where Microsoft was trying to take credit for the work of others and that they are huge hypocrites. Now I see, just barely, a “View Original Wikipedia Article” in the Register screenshot. That might be fine for you, but that does not change Microsoft’s intentions. Chances are that most Bing users would not know that Wikipedia is not a Microsoft project, if they noticed the attribution at all. Bing users who are aware of Wikipedia will be lead to believe that Microsoft has edited the article in honest way … better than the original, says the big publisher. I understand and share your opinion of the use of works, but we should take Microsoft to task for being the selfish bullies they are.

    Microsoft’s hypocrisy and arrogance is amazing. While Wikipedians may bask in Microsoft’s use of their work, which is the sincerest form of endorsement, I remember previous and ongoing big publisher slams. The makers of the decidedly third rate encyclopedia on a CD, Encarta, like all big publishers would like you to believe that ownership of data is equivalent to verification of data and that a Bing branded Wikipedia is better than the original. Microsoft is happy to use Wikipedia, don’t dare share your copy of Encarta or anything else Microsoft owns. While the sociopaths at Microsoft don’t see anything wrong with exploiting the work of “competitors” they wish to screw [2], they would have the lawyers going full blast if anyone pulled the same stunt with them. As Bill Gates once put it:

    most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? … Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? … The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. … there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft. … those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at. I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up

    Microsoft people are theives, not because they have made use of Wikipedia or even Google, but because they would own it all if they could. I see a parallel here between Microsoft’s use of Google and Wikipedia work while saying nasty things about both and their judicial extortion of free software companies and users. Microsoft’s end goal is always ownership and exclusion to create an artificial scarcity so that the company can charge rent on the labor of others. Watch them merge up with broadcasters like NBC and cable companies like Comcast, so that they can put toll booths on everything and turn the world wide web into pay per page, CableTV.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When you use someone else’s service you’re subjected to egregious conditions. I don’t think it’s illegal.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    My last comment was supposed to be a response to: “Actually, there is a disturbing allegation of privacy breach going on here that Microsoft basically admitted to.”

    As for Microsoft using Wikipedia content, how is that different from Microsoft’s (and Apple’s) use of BSD-licensed code to build their programs? They are leeches that want other people to share their stuff for free while they themselves call those who share “pirates” and sometimes sue them, putting those who share in prison.

  5. twitter said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Gravatar

    Bing, “Because It’s Not Google,” that mean spirited joke came back to bite them soon enough. It is true that Bing is not Google, despite the plagiarism, and that’s exactly why Bing should be avoided.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There are more compelling reasons for avoidance.

  6. twitter said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Gravatar

    Actually, there is a disturbing allegation of privacy breach going on here that Microsoft basically admitted to. PJ found this gem in her newspicks,

    [caught off guard by the on stage accusation at a Bing sponsored event] Sitting next to Cutts, Microsoft vice president Harry Shum didn’t deny that Microsoft was watching what people searched on and clicked on in Google. “My argument is that when users use search engines, they are actually willing to share the data. We are collectively using the data to improve the search engine,” Shum said. “Everyone does this, Matt.”

    Shum and Microsoft should be ashamed of spying on people’s surfing. PJ rightly pointed out that this was a violation of people’s privacy. Microsoft seems to think it’s OK to record everything they happen to hear. The English words for that are eavesdropping and wiretapping. Perhaps this is part of Vista’s encrypted data stream back to Microsoft. This is a good reason to avoid Windows. Perhaps they make a deal with ISPs. That is why people should use end to end encryption and also outlaw the practice.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    [Reposted in the right place]

    When you use someone else’s service you’re subjected to egregious conditions. I don’t think it’s illegal.

    twitter Reply:

    Spying on users might be legal in a click through sort of way, but it is a great example of the power non free software gives companies like Microsoft over users. Legal, perhaps but also very creepy and unethical.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Illegal and unethical are closely correlated. One is the result of the other, just requires laws to be modified.

  7. NotZed said,

    February 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Gravatar

    Unfortunately, google is basically useless for looking up scientific papers still – it tends to show cloaked paywall versions in preference to free or pre-published copies. While this is the case yahoo/bing is the only option for such searches.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Why not look directly at the relevant journals (e.g. PubMed)? They have search facilities too.

    twitter Reply:

    Use the site hack on Google instead, “site:arxiv.org search terms” for example. Bing usually sucks for deep or technical search.

What Else is New


  1. Links 25/7/2016: Linux 4.7 Final, PostgreSQL 9.6 Beta 3

    Links for the day



  2. Leaked: Boards of Appeal Face 'Exile' or 'Extradition' in Haar After Standing up to Battistelli

    A look at some of the latest moves at the European Patent Office (EPO), following Battistelli's successful coup d’état which brought the EPO into a perpetual state of emergency that perpetuates Battistelli's totalitarian powers



  3. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comes Across as Against Software Patents, Relates to the EPO as Well

    Some analysis of the input from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with focus on the EPO and software patents



  4. In the US, Patent Trolls Engage in Patent Wars and Shakedowns, Whereas in China/Korea Large Android OEMs Sue One Another

    Highlighting some of the differences between the US patent system and other patent systems



  5. Links 24/7/2016: Elive 2.7.1 Beta, New Flatpaks and Snaps

    Links for the day



  6. Links 23/7/2016: Leo Laporte on GNU/Linux, Dolphin Emulator’s Vulkan Completion

    Links for the day



  7. Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

    Links for the day



  8. Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

    Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas



  9. EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

    Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office



  10. EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO's Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

    Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)



  11. Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

    Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays



  12. Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

    While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants



  13. Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

    Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars



  14. Links 21/7/2016: Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Xfce Beta

    Links for the day



  15. Links 21/7/2016: An Honorary Degree for Alan Cox, Looks Back at DebConf16

    Links for the day



  16. EPO USA: Under Battistelli, the 'European' Patent Office Emulates All the Mistakes of the USPTO

    Conservative Benoît Battistelli is trying to impose on the European Patent Office various truly misguided policies and he viciously attacks anyone or anything that stands in his way, including his formal overseers



  17. Links 19/7/2016: ARM and Opera Buyout

    Links for the day



  18. Large Corporations' Software Patenting Pursuits Carry on in Spite of Patent Trolls That Threaten Small Companies the Most

    With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials work towards ending those



  19. Battistelli Has Implemented De Facto EPO Coup to Remove Oversight, Give Himself Total Power, and Allegedly Give UPC Gifts (Loot) to French Officials

    Benoît Battistelli's agenda at the EPO is anything but beneficial to the EPO and suspicions that Battistelli's overall agenda is transitioning to the UPC to further his goals grow feet



  20. EPO Social [sic] Report is a Big Pile of Lies That Responsible Journalists Must Ignore

    A reminder of where the EPO stands on social issues and why the latest so-called 'social' report is nothing but paid-for propaganda for Battistelli's political ambitions



  21. Links 18/7/2016: Vista 10 a Failure, FreeType 2.7

    Links for the day



  22. Exploiting Perceived Emergencies/Disasters, Suspending the Rule of Law, and Suspending Judges: How Erdoğan is Like Battistelli, Except the Coup

    Pretexts for crackdown on law-abiding people or figureheads who are remote and independent the hallmark not only of Erdoğan but also the EPO's President, Benoit Battistelli



  23. The Impotence of Gene Quinn

    Attacking the enforcer of Alice v CLS because it's doing harm to his source of income, which makes him angry



  24. After the FTI Consulting-EPO Reputation Laundering Deal's Expansion in Germany Süddeutsche Zeitung 'Forgets' That the EPO Even Exists

    Relative apathy if not complete silence regarding the EPO at Süddeutsche Zeitung following reports of FTI Consulting's deal expansion (media positioning in Germany), with hundreds of thousands of Euros (EPO budget) thrown at the controversial task



  25. Benoît Battistelli and Persistratos

    Reminds you of someone?



  26. Whistleblower Protection Desperately Needed at the European Patent Office

    EPO scandals are not publicly accessible or known to many people and not many such scandals are known at all because people are afraid of Battistelli's Fabius Maximus strategies



  27. Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

    Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders



  28. [ES] ¿Que si la EPO Bajo Battistelli Se Arruina Sin Posibilidad de Reparación Como la UPC?

    La última evidencia alrededor del hundimiénto de la reputación de la Epo y su calidad de trabajo, así como la caída del sistema que Battistelli trata forzadamente de imponer (una carrera al fondo)



  29. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli, Quién Quiebra la Ley, Subvierte el Curso de la Justicia y Rechaza Obedecer las Ordenes de la Corte Dice lo Impensable en Medio de los Actos de Terror

    Los terribles ataques hace un dia en Francia están siéndo explotados por el caradura de Benoît Battistelli para comedia negra o un verdaderamente absurda afirmación en la sección de “noticias” de la EPO



  30. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli Continúa Cortejando a Officiales de Países Pequeños y su Propaganda de Beneficiar a las “PYMEs de Aquellos Países”

    El caradura de Benoît Battistelli prosigue desfilando en los países pequeños que tienen delegados al Consejo Administrativo (CA) y los explota para propaganda barata, no sólo para que lo apoyen en las reuniónes del CA


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts