Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Bing: “We Do Not Copy Results. Period.”

Written by Gradly on . Posted in blog, google, Microsoft, Rants & Raves

The war of words between Google and Bing has escalated today with a strong denial about copied search results from Bing’s Yusuf Mehdi, who also accused Google of a form of click fraud in setting up its test involving “honeypot” search results.

Mehdi, Microsoft’s Senior VP of Online Services, just published a strongly-worded denial of Google’s claims on the Bing Search blog:

We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.

That’s in response to yesterday’s developments in which Google accused Bing of copying its search results after running tests that involved the manual promotion of random web pages to rank for nonsense terms on Google.com. A small percentage of the test queries — 7 to 9 of about 100 tested — later produced the same page to rank on Bing.com.

That led Bing to accuse Google of trying a ‘spy-novelesque stunt’, and Google followed up by calling Bing’s search results a ‘cheap imitation’ of Google.

Mehdi’s post today turns the heat up more with accusations that Google’s test was a form of click fraud:

Google engaged in a “honeypot” attack to trick Bing. In simple terms, Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.

Mehdi points out that Bing first admitted its use of click activity back in the summer of 2009 in a Directions on Microsoft report (membership required, link via SAI). He also points out that Google has been accused of copying Bing several times in the past. (He’s referring to Google image search, home page photos, and even Google’s adoption of a 3-column interface last year, which Ask.com had before both Bing and Google.)

It’s anyone’s guess how long this war of words will go on, as both sides seem to want to have the last word. That status belongs to Bing now, but for how long?

[source & more info at searchengineland]

Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results!

Written by Gradly on . Posted in blog, google, Microsoft, Rants & Raves

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.”

Bing doesn’t deny Google’s claim. Indeed, the statement that Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, emailed me yesterday as I worked on this article seems to confirm the allegation:

As you might imagine, we use multiple signals and approaches when we think about ranking, but like the rest of the players in this industry, we’re not going to go deep and detailed in how we do it. Clearly, the overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search, so we can guess at the best and most relevant answer to a given query.
Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This “Google experiment” seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals.

Later today, I’ll likely have a more detailed response from Bing. Microsoft wanted to talk further after a search event it is hosting today. More about that event, and how I came to be reporting on Google’s findings just before it began, comes at the end of this story. But first, here’s how Google’s investigation unfolded.

Postscript: Bing: Why Google’s Wrong In Its Accusations is the follow-up story from talking with Bing. Please be sure to read it after this. You’ll also find another link to it at the end of this article.

Hey, Does This Seem Odd To You?

Around late May of last year, Google told me it began noticing that Bing seemed to be doing exceptionally well at returning the same sites that Google would list, when someone would enter unusual misspellings.

For example, consider a search for torsoraphy, which causes Google to return this:

In the example above, Google’s searched for the correct spelling — tarsorrhaphy — even though torsoraphy was entered. Notice the top listing for the corrected spelling is a page about the medical procedure at Wikipedia.

Over at Bing, the misspelling is NOT corrected — but somehow, Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia page at the top of its results as Google does for its corrected spelling results:

Got it? Despite the word being misspelled — and the misspelling not being corrected — Bing still manages to get the right page from Wikipedia at the top of its results, one of four total pages it finds from across the web. How did it do that?

It’s a point of pride to Google that it believes it has the best spelling correction system of any search engine. Google even claims that it can even correct misspellings that have never been searched on before. Engineers on the spelling correction team closely watch to see if they’re besting competitors on unusual terms.

So when misspellings on Bing for unusual words — such as above — started generating the same results as with Google, red flags went up among the engineers.

Google: Is Bing Copying Us?

More red flags went up in October 2010, when Google told me it noticed a marked rise in two key competitive metrics. Across a wide range of searches, Bing was showing a much greater overlap with Google’s top 10 results than in preceding months. In addition, there was an increase in the percentage of times both Google and Bing listed exactly the same page in the number one spot.

By no means did Bing have exactly the same search results as Google. There were plenty of queries where the listings had major differences. However, the increases were indicative that Bing had made some change to its search algorithm which was causing its results to be more Google-like.

Now Google began to strongly suspect that Bing might be somehow copying its results, in particular by watching what people were searching for at Google. There didn’t seem to be any other way it could be coming up with such similar matches to Google, especially in cases where spelling corrections were happening.

Google thought Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser was part of the equation. Somehow, IE users might have been sending back data of what they were doing on Google to Bing. In particular, Google told me it suspected either the Suggested Sites feature in IE or the Bing toolbar might be doing this.

To Sting A Bing

To verify its suspicions, Google set up a sting operation. For the first time in its history, Google crafted one-time code that would allow it to manually rank a page for a certain term (code that will soon be removed, as described further below). It then created about 100 of what it calls “synthetic” searches, queries that few people, if anyone, would ever enter into Google.

These searches returned no matches on Google or Bing — or a tiny number of poor quality matches, in a few cases — before the experiment went live. With the code enabled, Google placed a honeypot page to show up at the top of each synthetic search.

The only reason these pages appeared on Google was because Google forced them to be there. There was nothing that made them naturally relevant for these searches. If they started to appeared at Bing after Google, that would mean that Bing took Google’s bait and copied its results.

This all happened in December. When the experiment was ready, about 20 Google engineers were told to run the test queries from laptops at home, using Internet Explorer, with Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar both enabled. They were also told to click on the top results. They started on December 17. By December 31, some of the results started appearing on Bing.

Here’s an example, which is still working as I write this, hiybbprqag at Google:

and the same exact match at Bing:

Here’s another, for mbzrxpgjys at Google:

and the same match at Bing:

Here’s one more, this time for indoswiftjobinproduction, at Google:

And at Bing:

To be clear, before the test began, these queries found either nothing or a few poor quality results on Google or Bing. Then Google made a manual change, so that a specific page would appear at the top of these searches, even though the site had nothing to do with the search. Two weeks after that, some of these pages began to appear on Bing for these searches.

It strongly suggests that Bing was copying Google’s results, by watching what some people do at Google via Internet Explorer.

[source & more info at searchengineland]

New Theme Brings Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles To iOS

Written by Gradly on . Posted in Apple, blog, Microsoft, Rants & Raves

If there is one thing that Windows Phone 7 has going for itself, it’s probably its Live Tiles home screen. Just like iOS updates the calendar’s icon once a day to show the right date, Microsoft made its entire homescreen display real-time information. It allows you for example to check when’s your next appointment, your Twitter feed or email without having to launch any app. It sounds great on paper, but they’re not quite there yet. Still, it’s a neat idea.

Wyndwarrior, a jailbreak theme creator certainly thought so too and took up to recreate the interface for jailbroken iOS devices. From the live tiles, all the way to displaying applications, he managed to reproduce pretty much the entire experience. Of course, even jailbroken, iOS has certain limitations, so don’t expect too much from it. Still, the result is impressive. Check it out:

[via: appadvice]

Apple could have had Microsoft’s Kinect controller?

Written by Gradly on . Posted in Apple, blog, Consoles, Microsoft, Tech.

Microsoft’s Kinect

Yes, says PrimeSense, the company whose technology is behind Microsoft’s new Xbox Kinect, originally tried to sell it to Apple. What went wrong and why didn’t Apple get it? Yup, secrecy and control!
Apple has a history of interface innovation, of course, and had recently introduced the iPhone with its paradigm-shifting multitouch UI. PrimeSense’s system went one step further: It was multitouch that you didn’t even have to touch. Apple seemed like a natural fit. Yet the initial meetings hadn’t gone so well. Obsessed with secrecy, Apple had already asked [PrimeSense CEO Inon Beracha] to sign a stack of crippling legal agreements and NDAs. He shook his head. Why didn’t he want to do a deal with Apple? No need. The technology was hot. He could sell it to anyone.
[via: cult of mac]

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