Q: What do Bing and George W. Bush have in common?

A: They are both their own self-proclaimed "deciders".
(Ex-)President George W. Bush became infamous for this as he essentially said that he would let his inner circle work out the details and he would simply say "yes" or "no". This is probably the most explicit admission I have heard from him or anyone else in his Administration that he deferred to (now Ex-)Vice President Dick Cheney, rather than the other way around.
Bing, Microsoft's rebranded (it's technically not new except for the name and the idea of a changing background), proclaims itself to be a "decision engine" rather than a search engine. It's implying that it will decide for you what is best for what you want rather than letting you decide. It seems to be taking on the search engine Google and the computational engine Wolfram|Alpha (both of which I happen to like A LOT) at the same time, and failing miserably at both.
My dad and I both complain that Bing is utter crap compared to Google. For most of what we search (in common) every day, Bing returns fewer AND less relevant results than Google consistently. That means it didn't happen after 1-2 searches. That means it happened after more than 20 different searches. This is bad.
What's worse is that Bing's algorithm seems to have been altered by Microsoft to promote itself. For example, any search on Google on "why Microsoft sucks" or "why Windows sucks" will return a litany of correct results going on for many pages. This is understandable because there are a LOT of internet users who are active in communities that oppose Windows and Microsoft's business model as well as many more users who are simply frustrated by crappy Microsoft software.
The same search terms in Bing will return results as if you had typed "why Apple sucks" for the same number of pages; if you're lucky, you'll get the desired results at the very end, and if you're not, there will be no relevant results.
This is also understandable as there are many frustrated Mac/other Apple product users (though Apple and its fanbois would like you to not think so!), but that's only if the search terms included "Apple" in terms of "Microsoft". The bias is pretty blatant here.
Similarly, Google searches for "Windows fixes" and such return relevant information generated by regular users on how to fix something on Windows and why it's a problem with Windows. Similar Bing searches will magically replace "Windows" with "Mac" or "Linux", and if you're really lucky, you'll get a few results that are official fixes from Microsoft (which generally don't solve the entire problem anyway).
I had written off Bing earlier, but after a bit of thought and self-reflection I figured that might not be fair. After reading this, I can conclude it is certainly fair. I use Linux Mint almost all the time on my computer (I still have Windows XP for the occasional use) and my aim is to avoid learning about the command line and use the OS like a non-computer-knowing Windows user, only using the terminal by copying and pasting commands from Internet results. Thus, I would need to search for my problem online and use the (absolutely marvelous) forums for help. Google comes in very handy for this; Bing would mysteriously hide these results in favor of "why Windows is better" or something similar. Thus, my dislike has a very practical side to it too, so you can't accuse me of one-sidedly hating on Microsoft.
The most rational reason I have seen for this behavior is that Microsoft (somewhat correctly) assumes that most of Bing's users use Windows, so official Microsoft fixes and the like are all they ever expect to see and all they want; this makes sense but it still doesn't explain the magical replacement of Microsoft-related terms with competitors' names.
I thus mourn the loss of Yahoo! Search (which was really a decent search engine on its own and a great competitor to Google), as it now redirects all searches to Bing search; furthermore, as far as I know, Microsoft has no plan to incorporate the superior Yahoo! search technology into Bing, so all it wants to do is bring in that greater traffic from Yahoo! and keep a crappy search engine.
Of course, it's a "decision engine", so it'll decide for you what's best and what's crap; rather than have that happen, you decide.

For those of you who know me pretty well, you know I hate Microsoft in general. I don't think they have ever come up with an original piece of software; they always derive their work from other sources (which is laudable and promoted among the free software community...) but always take the credit for themselves and charge exorbitant prices for their products. Furthermore, their recent support of free software standards has been nominal at best; the whole OOXML thing was proven to have many proprietary parts and sections that essentially gave Microsoft full control of development in open violation of open standards. Then, Bill Gates decided to purchase and release all of the Feynman lecture videos to the public online; this is great as my passion is physics and I really like (in a totally straight way) Richard Feynman, but Gates decided to do it in Microsoft's proprietary Silverlight format instead of the free Ogg-Theora standard or even the proprietary but much more widely used Shockwave/Flash format. This means that essentially only Windows users can see it, and while Mac and Linux users have Moonlight, an adaptation of Silverlight for non-Windows OSs, Moonlight is crippled because Silverlight makes it so, meaning that Mac and Linux users really can't see these videos anyway. Then, very recently, Microsoft supported a particular software/architecture-thingy (I'm not exactly sure what it was) and GPL'ed it. Releasing code under the GPL means that they have to respect the openness of the code and allow people to modify and rerelease (under the GPL) the code too. This was laudable at first until a third party found out that Microsoft had included their own licenses that allowed the use of proprietary code and almost entirely disallowed modifying or even viewing the underlying code; all of these things constituted huge violations of the GPL. Thus, Microsoft completely undermines its commitment to openness through its continuing backhanded tactics; openness to them means openness only to them.
That said, Microsoft does actually make some decent products. I use OpenOffice.Org because it suits all my needs and is free software, but for more extensive documents and spreadsheets and more content-filled presentations, Microsoft Office 2007 is the way to go. Though I don't like the de facto non-support for ODF (yes, it was originally a separate extension and then was made into a software update, but both forms of support worked horribly if at all), the Ribbon UI is really nice and makes a lot of sense (I didn't like it at first but that was probably just because I was wary of Microsoft, so now I like it a lot), and all the new features are really useful. I hear OO.O is coming out with a Ribbon competitor for the next release, but I've seen a screenshot and it looks terrible compared to Microsoft's version. Also, the XBOX 360 is a great system (though still buggy today compared to the PS3 and the Wii) with amazing graphics, games, and the legendary XBOX Live. Furthermore, Microsoft's hardware, like its mice, keyboards, and webcams, are of very high quality and last for a very long time.

Moral of the story: don't Bing and decide, just decide not to use Bing!

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