Microsoft has thrown the gauntlet down to Google on the announcement of its forthcoming Bing search engine, with UK search lead Paul Stoddart telling TechRadar that its rival has 'backed itself into a beautiful corner'.
Bing will arrive in Beta form in the UK on 3 June, offering a very different search option to the traditional Google.
Microsoft's Paul Stoddart believes that the company's relatively small market share through its current Live search engine means that it can afford to take the kind of risks to innovate that Google cannot.
A beautiful corner
"Google has backed itself into a beautiful corner," Stoddart told TechRadar at the UK Bing briefing. "It's not meant to be a criticism, but its service is so monetised that any dramatic change will have a massive impact.
"Whether that impact is positive or negative, it's if Google is prepared to take that kind of risk.
"Because we have a small market share we can afford to make these big changes. Microsoft's revenue is not purely dependent on advertising and can therefore take some risks.
"We're prepared to take the risk and offer something very different."
We want to win!
Stoddart admits that the natural competitive nature within Microsoft means that is desperate to make inroads into Google's dominance of search on the internet.
"Of course we want to win!" he says "Our intent is to make a contender to Google and to do that we have moved away from the MSN/Live branding.
"It's a new era of search. We've looked into the way in which people search and for a lot of them they just aren't satisfied with the results they get.
"When people search 50 per cent of the time they have to refine that search to get what they want.
"With Bing we hope to intuitively second guess what people wanted to find from what they search for."
Microsoft's approach is very much to offer an alternative to Google by differentiating its Bing service from the familiar Google search – but that doesn't mean it is dumping the heritage, and the lessons, of Live Search.
"We're lucky in that we have four-and-a-half years of experience in search. It takes a long time to create an index of web pages comparable with Google's, but we have that," added Stoddart.
"All the competition is a good thing. What we want is to show the user that search is evolving – it's not done."