Out of all of Google's potential rivals, one stands above all others: Microsoft. The software giant has a long history of dominating the computer marketplace. Almost everyone who has ever used a computer is familiar with the Windows operating system. Then there's Microsoft Office, a suite of productivity software that's very popular in the corporate world. As Google tries to edge into Microsoft's territory with products like Google Docs, Microsoft is doing the same thing to Google through search.
Microsoft has offered Web search engines under several names. The latest incarnation is called Bing. Bing has a snazzy interface and a simple navigation menu. You can search for Web site results, images, video, news and more. While Google search offers similar services, Bing's presentation has more style.
Microsoft has included other features within its search engine, too. Need to find a cheap airline fare? You can use Bing to search for ticket prices and the status of flights. Want to find out how many calories you consumed when you wolfed down that hot dog? You can use Bing to find out.
Bing enjoyed a big spike in user activity shortly after it debuted. Journalists remarked on the search result quality, particularly for images and videos. But later reports suggested that Bing's surge in popularity was short-lived. It appears that users just need search to be "good enough" without any of the bells and whistles you find in Bing. Could Bing bounce back and take Google's search throne?