The bing-vs-google.com Web site lets you see how the two sites stack up.

Screenshot by HowStuffWorks.com

Bing vs. Google

You've heard it all before. It's the most overused axiom in any event where the underdog takes on the top dog: David versus Goliath. The underdog rarely has a chance and almost never pulls off the improbable upset. That's sort of the case with Bing. With Google as the top dog of search engines, no company outside of Yahoo has been able to muster much of a challenge. Search is Google's bread and butter. Microsoft, on the other hand, is much more diverse. But Google's single focus has rewarded it with the largest piece of the pie.

Microsoft's Windows Live Search was a search engine that went along with the company's other Live-brand-named products. Live Search wasn't a dedicated search, or in Bing's case, decision engine, and couldn't compete with Google. That's why Microsoft built Bing.

To compete with the Google juggernaut, Microsoft jazzed up the appearance of Bing by displaying a colorful, and sometimes dramatic, picture on its entire home page. The picture changes daily. This is in sharp contrast to Google's blank white page. Embedded in these images are what Microsoft refers to as "hotspots." When the user scrolls his or her mouse over one of these hotspots, information boxes pop up to tell you more about the photo. For instance, an image of Mt. Vesuvius contains several hotspots that when scrolled over, reveal information of its deadly eruption in AD 79. You can follow any of these links to learn more.

Both Bing and Google have the same tabs to filter searches as well as preference menus. You can choose from tabs labeled Web, video, images, shopping, news and maps, and you can also set your preferences to filter explicit content. Google's popularity is due in large part to the effectiveness of its powerful search algorithm and patented PageRank system. Bing attempts to counter this with its best match feature which, like PageRank, sorts the results by order of relevance. For instance, when you search "NASCAR" in Bing, the top result, or best match, is NASCAR.com, NASCAR's official Web site.

Below is a screenshot of how the two search engines handle the same inquiry. Notice the inquiry "how Bing works."

Perhaps Microsoft's boldest move -- the one that may have even raised eyebrows at Google was Microsoft's 10-year-long agreement to power Yahoo's search. Yahoo, in exchange, will throw its expertise behind advertising for both Yahoo and Bing search. Yahoo has the second-largest slice of the search pie at 20 percent. Combined with Microsoft's share, the new entity will have nearly half of what Google claims. Bing will take over Yahoo search in 2010. Over the first five years, Yahoo will receive 88 percent of advertising revenue. As part of the agreement, Microsoft is guaranteeing search revenue for 18 months in each country in which it operates [source: Fried].

Microsoft spent a reported $80 million in promoting Bing [source: McNichol]. Will it improve the company's market share? Over the long haul, it's anyone's guess, but in July 2009, shortly after Bing's release, Microsoft's piece of the pie increased to 10 percent of the search market [source Ngo].

For more information on search engines and related topics, make the decision to take a look at the links on the next page.