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Could Karma Play Role In The Fate Of Microsoft Bing?

Microsoft's Bing search engine is getting rave reviews, but Microsoft's carrying much more baggage than search leader Google, and that could impact Bing's future momentum.

For now, though, Bing's the shiny new toy of the moment. Bing's daily penetration among U.S. search users was 15.5 percent during the June 2-6 time period, rising from 13.8 percent the week before for Bing's predecessor, Live Search, according to Comscore. Bing's share of search engine results also jumped from 9.1 percent to 11.1 percent during the same period.

Microsoft has high hopes for Bing and is reportedly spending $90 million on a Bing advertising campaign, the early returns of which have been well received both inside and outside IT industry circles.

With Bing, Microsoft's technology and marketing engines are working in concert to drum up massive buzz around an impressive new innovation. So why won't Bing be able to continue grabbing share from Google? Perhaps it's a question of karma.

Google has attracted a dominant share of the search market in spite of the smarminess of its unofficial corporate motto, "Don't be Evil." And it's true: Google hasn't had a Windows Vista Capable case. Google hasn't frustrated millions upon millions of users the way Microsoft did with Vista. In short, Google hasn't attracted the type of calcified negative sentiment that surrounds Microsoft.

Sridhar Vembu, founder and CEO of Zoho, believes Microsoft's spotty track record with adhering to open standards has engendered a level of distrust in the industry that overshadows its innovations.

"Microsoft just has so much bad karma in this industry that I cannot imagine a company like us trusting them on much of anything," Vembu wrote in a recent blog post.

Zoho competes with the Microsoft Office cash cow, so it's not surprising that Vembu would have strong views on Microsoft. But Zoho also competes with Google Apps, and he's not aiming these criticisms Google's way. Instead, Vembu says it's very telling that Zoho and other Google competitors are willing to embrace Google's innovations while shunning those of Microsoft.

Microsoft has been hearing these types of criticisms for so many years that the company hardly bats an eye when new ones surface. Microsoft doesn't need Bing to overtake Google in order for it to be considered a success. In fact, Microsoft executives have avoided specific mentions of search market share goals.

Still, it's hard to imagine that Microsoft's long term goal in search isn't to one day leave Google in the rearview mirror, writhing in a vanquished, humiliated heap of smugness.

Many Web users may ultimately find that Bing is better at turning up certain types of information than Google. But Google's dominance in search looks to be pretty safe, barring an unforeseen seismic shift in the corporate culture.

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