Tag Archives: Google

Internet Search is tough (and @Bing has a lot of catching up to do)!

Yesterday, I came back from a visit to the kiddo’s doctor. Doctor had prescribed a medicine that we couldn’t find in the nearby pharmacies (in India you are allowed to walk out with a prescription and get the medicine from any pharmacy). The med prescribed was not available and the doctor was unreachable on phone! Pissed, I turned to the Internet to look for composition.

Start IE10->Type Name in and hit enter and helpful Bing gives you result right? Well I ended up with the following for the search “Doxycof for kids” (Doxycof was the medicine the doctor had prescribed)Bing-Mess-Up

Then I did the same search on Google and it gave me the result as you can see above.

I was flabbergasted and mad, so I took to the “international cribbing machine” aka Twitter (apologies for the swearing).


Today morning I got a message from @Bing


Which needless to say leaves me a little red-in-the-ears, but it ended up in this blog post.

Search is hard but it gets better over time

I started using Google almost 11-12* years ago and soon after I started using Gmail. Like it or not, Google has a boatload of context about ‘Sumit Kumar Maitra’ or whatever hash their robots use to represent me and my online history. This is after I have turned off my site tracking (not sure if some EULA change has turned it back on) in Google settings. A result of this 11 years worth of context when I search of “dexycof for kids” google checks the entire phrase instead of finding the first auto correct word and doing a search on it. This amount of context sensitivity can only come from maturity of a machine learning algorithm and contextual data.

*UPDATE: I looked up and it seems I got my GMail invite on December 10, 2004 but I am pretty sure I was using Google search from much before that.

Back to the beginning (How Microsoft and Yahoo lost it)

Now here is the sad story of MSN Search->Live Search->Bing all different names for a Microsoft product.

I had a Hotmail account when it was Sabeer Bhatia’s brainchild (before he sold it to Microsoft). My Hotmail account was my ‘Live Id’ until recently when I switched to outlook.com. But today I don’t have any of my mails from back in 2000? Why? Because after Microsoft bought Hotmail it couldn’t wait for me to ‘come back’ to it, and in stretch of 3 months where I didn’t use Hotmail (it was NOTORIOUSLY SLOW at the time), Microsoft decided to wipe out my mailbox! Also I never really used Live for logging in to much else other than Hotmail and MSN chats, but that move completely pushed me away from their services. The bottom-line is I never used Microsoft’s online services because of the perception they are notoriously slow (when compared to Google) and next they didn’t have any of my ol’ stuff, so there was nothing to go ‘back’ to.

All the above is true about the Yahoo accounts I had. The history for those is gone!

Thus I slowly moved away from their online services and started using Google till I realized how Google is sniffing my a** and knows more about me than I care to tell it!

A Possible Turnaround

I started using IE (and kept the default Bing) since IE9. Between IE 5 and IE 8 (both included) I had stopped using IE almost entirely for ‘my stuff’. That’s a valuable chunk of time Microsoft lost.

I couldn’t care less if Microsoft’s search was called Live Search, MSN Search or Bing. A search engine is useful to me if it returns relevant results, fast. I respect the fact that Microsoft is not sniffing my mails and I am willing to cut it some slack when it logs me into all MS affiliated sites using my Microsoft ID that I use for logging in to Windows 8. In fact if it knows what I am looking for in MSDN and StackOverflow good for me, it knows 1/2 my search requirements better.

Also search engine relevance building is a chicken-and-egg problem. You can’t build better search relevance unless you know people better, you don’t know people better unless they use your product and people don’t use your product because you are returning gibberish search results.

Fact is MS and Bing is 10 years behind schedule (thanks to their own bungling)! So while Google’s search engine is in it’s Preens, Bing is a toddler. Can technology beat time? Last I looked they were nowhere close to building a Time Machine. We can only wish Bing best of luck! I can only promise my first search will be on Bing, but if the first result is not relevant my next search will be ‘unfortunately’ on Google!

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The Chrome OS (and Google’s plan to takeover the earth ;-) )

Okay, so the cat is out of the bag, Google has thrown the source code of it’s Chromium ‘OS’ project open to community.

While fanboys are busy tearing each other apart on how it will or will not change OSes forever, I am still to see a balanced review or someone actually getting to the gist of why google needs another variant of linux. Here is my attempt to look at the “Why Chrome OS?”

Disclaimer: I am still downloading the source code (on an Windows XP machine) so I am yet to ‘try it out’.

What is Google’s niche?

Let’s ask ourselves, what is google’s core or niche? Answer comes in a flash – “Search”. They rule the search engine market, period.

What is Google’s source of revenue?

Ad revenue thanks to the phenomenal search engine.

How often do you click on Google’s ads?

Umm… well not all that often…


They are either a little off the mark sometimes, but most of the time they are way off!

However, I do love how they bring up UPS (FedEx/USPS) search link whenever Amazon sends me a Package Shipment confirmation. Why is that? Because it is bang on the buck when it comes to ‘context’. When I read a shipment mail I want to know where the shipment is. That little link they give next to the mail just does it for me.

Google’s ad algorithms need context to bring up relevant search results!

Owning the window to the internet (aka OS) gives it access ‘you’, the user directly. No need to worry about security violations, no running the hoops on browser security (or lack of them), they have you going through what you want. Bingo! All the context they need to pin point ad delivery!

As I see it’s the Chrome OS is nothing more a vehicle for Google to sharpen it’s Ad delivery. It’s a good idea, it might just work. When I first heard of Chrome OS my first feeling was ‘too many talented people in google have too much free time!’ But I will correct myself, Google is trying to spread out as far as it takes to get the context it needs to perfect it’s ad delivery. Everything else is irrelevant. They are not interested in OS wars or Browser wars, they are simply focused on their core, which sounds good from the shareholder perspective, but is it anything groundbreaking like the search itself? Naaahhhh!!!

Cloud computing is all great when you have internet flowing like water, but you have to realize greater part of this world doesn’t have flowing water, leave alone internet. Stating cloud computing will give desktop computing a run for it’s money is like the the original dot com boom predictions where everything would be done online. We know what happened to that one. We all remember Sun and Oracle’s attempt at the Network PC or whatever it was called. It came and went, the the desktop survived.

This time around cloud computing has a snazzy veneer to it. It works better than before, desktop market is riddled with what I feel is an inertia in innovation. Microsoft is resting on it’s laurels, Apple it too busy trying to make people stop using Microsoft products… Google might sneak in and steal both their thunder. Might!!!

For me, I am too old fashioned to give up my desktop/laptop. I liked the Chrome browser. Had Google spent more efforts on making it the perfect window to access internet it might have had success faster, getting people to use a new browser might be easier to actually get them to use a new OS. I used Chrome for almost a year (didn’t have firefox and IE 6 was there just because I am running XP), but now I’ve given up on it, it’s buggy with it’s own apps like Orkut/Gmail etc. Back to Firefox.

Will sign off for now, let’s see how the new flavor of Linux aka Chrome OS or Project Chromium goes…

P.S. Just for records, I earn my living on Microsoft technologies (they make some of the best development tools around, too bad Borland went out of business); I hate IE browsers; Use Firefox and have an Apple iPhone, in short I don’t fall in the ‘fanboy’ category.

UPDATE: Two years down the road, I must correct my hatred for IE. Thanks to IE9 it’s usable again. But Firefox still gets the most love from me as a browser 🙂 (and I’ve not gone back to Chrome).

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