Microsoft to launch new Aussie search engine at

Microsoft’s latest attempt to regain traction in search and thus search-related advertising is expected to debut this week under the banner of Bing.

Previously known by the internal testing codename of Kumo Bing will replace the current Live Search engine. And to ensure Bing becomes a global brand Microsoft has snapped up almost every conceivable country-based domain.

In addition to the all-dominating a WhoIs search revealed that Microsoft Australia is holding down while other Microsoft subs have snapped up and (The company also took out a trademark on ‘Bing’ earlier this year).

Kumo which will now be known as Bing makes it easy to filter results through context-sensitive categories
 based on what you’re searching for – such as a singer (above) or a product (below)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will debut and demonstrate Bing when The Wall Street Journal’s influential All Things D conference kicks off later today Australian time.

And to be sure the new name sticks Microsoft is embarking on an advertising campaign worth between US$80 million and US$100 million with placements on TV radio newspapers outdoor and of course the Internet. It remains to be seen if a similar albeit scaled-down campaign will run outside the US.

Advertising Age magazine says the US spend is higher than the launch for most consumer products and notes that Google spent just US$25 million on advertising in 2008.

The publication also says that Microsoft’s campaign will avoid any mention of Google and instead promote Bing as an evolution to a new type of search engine.

“They’ll focus on planting the idea that today’s search engines don’t work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems.”

This plays into one of Bing’s key differentiators:  that it returns search results refined across several categories rather than just a single ranked list of sites starting with the most popular.

Search for the name of a singer and while the main part of the results page shows the typical list a left-hand navigation pane reveals the search already narrowed to show results filtered into categories such as images songs lyrics albums and videos.

Enter the name of a product and the sidebar categories morph to reviews manual prices and repairs. Type the name of a suburb and the category filters could be broken down into maps local business guides trip routing and traffic information.

The sidebar also contains a set of related searches based on the initial keywords while the returned sites also sport a ‘hover preview’ thumbnail image and single session history.

Microsoft considers that Bing’s ability to present a wide selection of relevant results will give users better faster and more accurate searching than Google.

As for that name..? While it’s true that Microsoft’s home state of Washington home to a variety of cherry known as ‘Bing cherry’ we hope that Microsoft is a little less parochial than that.

There’s no denying that the name is phonetically catchy. And it also has some useful real-world associations (once you discount the famous crooner and that guy from Friends) such as a sound to signify something’s completed or done.