Microsoft has made a lot of noise recently with their “Scoogled” campaign, accusing Google of taking every bit of information they can get their hands on – your searches, your emails, your IM’s, etc and storing it and using it. They use it to give you ads; they use it to track your interests; they use it to “turn you into the product”, to use the accepted phrase of the day. Microsoft’s counter is to try and turn your fears into Google-phobia. They’re trying to scare you away from Google.
And it’s kind of…what’s the word? Oh yeah, stupid.
Because what Microsoft doesn’t address in this campaign is the fact that, anecdotally anyway, in many ways Google is better than Microsoft’s equivalent services.
Google search is far and away Google’s bread and butter. They’ve been doing it forever. So long, in fact that “Google It” has replaced “Look it up” in modern vernacular. Now, I know what you’re thinking – just because they’ve been doing something for forever doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Except in this case, it does. Google’s search results are very simple, very clear, and very refined, almost to the point of anticipating your needs.
Microsoft counters with Bing. Bing is pretty. Which is great if you fancy form over function. Bing’s results, at least in my experience, are rarely any more accurate or easy. So I stepped up to the plate. . I took the Google vs. Bing challenge and in a blind test of 5 searches, I chose Google over Bing twice, with two draws. Close, Microsoft. And I’m not saying that’s the definitive litmus test. But…
“Let’s Bing it”
–No one. Ever.
Magellan Ain’t Got Nothin’ On You
Maps are another area where Microsoft falls short. For me this is actually a closer horse race than searches. But in the end, I prefer the Google mapping experience. Microsoft does offer a very nice “Bird’s Eye view” which is similar to Google’s 45 degree view, but in thus case Microsoft offered it first, and they also offer the option to rotate the 45 degree view. There are just some things that aren’t clear from straight up. So in the specific case of wanting the 45 degree view, advantage Microsoft. But that’s pretty much where Microsoft’s reign comes to an end.
Remember, in this case, we’re talking about Bing Maps, not Nokia Here. Turn-by-turn directions on Google have a much better user interface, both in browser and on mobile. But where Google truly trumps Bing is in information gathering for those maps. Namely, traffic and business searching. I can relate numerous tales of when I have sat in a parking lot in front of an empty dark storefront clutching my Lumia (whichever) and cursing the gods of Bing. I have stopped by more closed (permanently) stores and restaurants than OSHA and the health inspector combined.
If you’re wondering who OSHA is, Google it. See what I did there?
Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Finally, I saved Microsoft’s biggest ball drop for last. Messaging and video chat. Microsoft picked up Skype two years ago, and never really did anything with it. At the same time Apple was rolling out Face Time – except of course to AT&T customers, Microsoft seemed to be searching for it’s own FaceTime type thing. The difference is, when Microsoft bought Skype, they just let it sit there. Like “Hey everyone, here’s Skype. Use it. Please?”
In some circles, Skype is a great way to go, especially for video chat. We at Pocketnow use it all the time. But now, Google has pushed out Hangouts, the artist formerly known as “Talk”, which allows for video conferencing with multiple parties, with future SMS and Google voice integration, which trumps the video/text of Skype. What’s more, Google has integrated it into Google Plus and Android, making it available to everyone, no extra app downloading necessary. Microsoft on the other hand, integrated Facebook chat into their OS-level messenger platform but not their own product, Skype.
‘Absurd’, Party of One. Your table is ready.
Having said that, while it can be argued that Google has handled their messenger services better, it cannot be said definitively that Hangouts are “better” than Skype. At this point, it’s really too early to tell whether Hangouts are better, because hangouts are about a week old at this point and we can’t hedge our bets against promises of future upgrades (right Palm?). So in terms of the messaging service itself, we’ll call it a draw. But the fact that Google did not rest on their laurels and have made significant inroads with Hangouts, while Microsoft has almost forgotten that Skype exists means the advantage will likely be Google’s very soon.
Of course, a lot of this is anecdotal and subjective. “Better” is hard to quantify. But it still stands that while Google has continued to innovate and push their respective services forward, Microsoft has never really done that, relying instead of gimmicky marketing and schoolyard name calling. Shocking that Microsoft has fallen behind with that model, no?
So I’ve told you my stories. How about yours? Any Microsoft love out there? Anybody Bing it on the regular? Sound off in the comments and let us know your success and/or failure stories.