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


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


  1. David Gerard said,

    February 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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. TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

    A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

  2. PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent 'Industry' That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

    The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it's supporting sham deals (or "scams") and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

  3. The Patent 'Industry' is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn't Like the Decisions

    Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they're willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

  4. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent 'Industry' in the Process

    A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

  5. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)

  6. The Patent 'Printing Machine' of the EPO Will Spawn Many Lawsuits and Extortions (Threats of Lawsuits), in Effect Taxing Europe

    The money-obsessed, money-printing patent office, where the assembly line mentality has been adopted and patent-printing management is in charge, is devaluing or diluting the pool of European Patents, more so with restrictions (monetary barriers) to challenging bad patents

  7. Links 17/3/2018: Varnish 6, Wine 3.4

    Links for the day

  8. Deleted EPO Tweets and Promotion of Software Patents Amid Complaints About Abuse and Demise of Patent Quality

    Another ordinary day at the EPO with repressions of workforce, promotion of patents that aren't even allowed, and Team UPC failing to get its act together

  9. Guest Post: Suspected “Whitewashing” Operations by Željko Topić in Croatia

    Articles about EPO Vice-President Željko Topić are disappearing and sources indicate that it’s a result of yet more SLAPP from him

  10. Monumental Effort to Highlight Decline in Quality of European Patents (a Quarter of Examiners Sign Petition in Spite of Fear), Yet Barely Any Press Coverage

    he media in Europe continues to be largely apathetic towards the EPO crisis, instead relaying a bunch of press releases and doctored figures from the EPO; only blogs that closely follow EPO scandals bothered mentioning the new petition

  11. Careful Not to Conflate UPC Critics With AfD or Anti-EU Elements

    The tyrannical Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being spun as something that only fascists would oppose after the right-wing, anti-EU politicians in Germany express strong opposition to it

  12. Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

    Links for the day

  13. PTAB Continues to Increase Capacity Ahead of Oil States; Patent Maximalists Utterly Upset

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees the number of filings up to an almost all-time high and efforts to undermine PTAB are failing pretty badly -- a trend which will be further cemented quite soon when the US Supreme Court (quite likely) backs the processes of PTAB

  14. Patent Maximalists Are Still Trying to Create a Patent Bubble in India

    Litigation maximalists and patent zealots continue to taunt India, looking for an opportunity to sue over just about anything including abstract ideas because that's what they derive income from

  15. EPO Staff Has Just Warned the National Delegates That EPO's Decline (in Terms of Patent Quality and Staff Welfare) Would Be Beneficial to Patent Trolls

    The staff of the EPO increasingly recognises the grave dangers of low-quality patents -- an issue we've written about (also in relation to the EPO) for many years

  16. The EPO is a Mess Under Battistelli and Stakeholders Including Law Firms Will Suffer, Not Just EP Holders

    As one last 'gift' from Battistelli, appeals are becoming a lot more expensive -- the very opposite of what he does to applications, in effect ensuring a sharp increase in wrongly-granted patents

  17. The EPO Under Battistelli Has Become Like China Under Xi and CPC

    The EPO is trying very hard to silence not only the union but also staff representatives; it's evidently worried that the lies told by Team Battistelli will be refuted and morale be affected by reality

  18. Links 14/3/2018: IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119, Tails 3.6

    Links for the day

  19. Links 13/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.5.2, Tails 3.6, Firefox 59

    Links for the day

  20. Willy Minnoye (EPO) Threatened Staff With Disabilities Said to Have Been Caused by the EPO Work Pressures

    Willy Minnoye, or Battistelli's 'deputy' at the EPO until last year, turns out to have misused powers (and immunity) to essentially bully vulnerable staff

  21. IAM and IBM Want Lots of Patent Litigation in India

    Having 'championed' lobbying for litigation Armageddon in China (where IBM's practicing business units have gone), patent maximalists set their eyes on India

  22. The Patent Trolls' Lobby (IAM) Already Pressures Andrei Iancu, Inciting a USPTO Director Against PTAB

    Suspicions that Iancu might destroy the integrity of the Office for the sake of the litigation ‘industry’ may be further reaffirmed by the approach towards patent maximalists from IAM, who also participated in the shaming of his predecessor, Michelle Lee, and promoted a disgraced judge (and friend of patent trolls) for her then-vacant role

  23. Patent Trolls in the United States Increasingly Target Small Businesses Which Cannot Challenge Their Likely-Invalid Software Patents

    South by Southwest (SXSW Conference/Festivals in Austin, Texas) has a presentation about patent trolls, whose general message may be reaffirmed by recent legal actions in Texas and outside Texas

  24. EPO Staff Union Organises Protest to Complain About Inability “of the Office to Recruit the Highly Qualified Staff it Needs.”

    Having already targeted union leaders and staff representatives, the EPO may soon be going after those whom they passionately represented and the staff union (SUEPO) wants the Administrative Council to be aware

  25. Battistelli Likes to Describe His Critics as 'Nazis', Team UPC Will Attempt the Same Thing Against UPC Critics

    Demonising one's opposition or framing it as "fascist" is a classic trick; to what degree will Team UPC exploit such tactics?

  26. Session in Bavaria to Discuss the Abuses of the European Patent Office Later Today

    The EPO shambles in Munich have gotten the attention of more Bavarian politicians, more so in light of the Constitutional complaint against the UPC (now dealt with by the German FCC, which saw merit in the complaint)

  27. Links 12/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC5, KEXI 3.1, Karton 1.0, Netrunner 18.03, Debian 9.4

    Links for the day

  28. EPO Patent 'Growth' Not Achieved But Demanded/Mandated by Battistelli, by Lowering Quality of Patents/Services

    Targets at the EPO are not actually reached but are being imposed by overzealous management which dries up all the work in a hurry in order to make examiners redundant and many European Patents worthless

  29. Doubt Over Independence of Judges at the EPO Clouds Reason in Deciding Regarding Patents on Life

    With the growing prospect of a Board of Appeal (BoA) having to decide on patentability of CRISPR 'innovation' (more like explanation/discovery), questions linger or persist about judges' ability to rule as they see fit rather than what some lunatic wants

  30. Patent Academics and CAFC Make a Living Out of Patents, But Both Must Begrudgingly Learn to Accept That Patents Went Too Far

    A look at academic pundits' views on the patent system of the United States and where the Federal Circuit (a high patent court) stands on these matters after the US Supreme Court (highest possible court) lashed out at many of its decisions, especially those from the disgraced Rader years


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


Recent Posts