Is It Time For A Bing/ Microsoft Boycott?

Following on from news last month that Microsoft was in talks with AP to give AP new stories a better run on Bing comes news today that Microsoft is in talks with News Corp to exclusively feature their content in Bing, as opposed to Google as well.

The concept of a News Corp/ Microsoft tie-up has been speculated on for months since News Corp came out and said that they plan to pull their content from Google and other search engines.

The talks between AP and Microsoft were sickening in themselves: instead of endeavoring to offer the best search results no matter what the origin of the content, Microsoft is willing to sell itself out for favor or monetary gain. Today’s news is simply an extension of that: who cares about the best search results, because Microsoft is willing to sell those to the highest bidder (or in this case, them paying News Corp for the rights.)

Despite the many positives from Microsoft in recent years, old habits have died hard in certain parts of the business. Prostituting the results in Bing and delivering results that aren’t the best results, but instead those that come from business partnerships is the worst of the old Microsoft coming once again to the fore.

On one hand, getting News Corp content out of Google, which is still there despite how easy it would be for News Corp to take it out, is a positive for everyone else. But likewise, Microsoft sets a precedent in a deal that recognizes that News Corp content in a search engine (be it in part) has to be paid for, as opposed to being rightfully fair use (to the point that News Corp can pull it all out tomorrow.)

Still, unless Microsoft pays for reading rights for their users, any deal with News Corp will only push readers to Google; after all Murdoch has said they’re going to charge for access to their content. What would most people prefer: independent but free content on Google, vs pay to view content pushed to the front of Bing.

Microsoft, a company that has tried awfully hard in the last five years to become a true community and fair player, may never give up its old ways. Whether we should boycott Microsoft/ Bing I’ll leave to others, but I know that if Microsoft signs deals like this, my occasional use of Bing will halt immediately, and I’d bet I’m not the only one who does that.