Its been widely reported Google’s experiment of having a background picture for the front page of its search engine.  I think its safe to say that the experiment was not well received and for most users I have spoken with it failed on two fronts, firstly because the simplistic “actually do the job” front page is exactly what users want and secondly because some people were reminded of Bing when opening their search engine of choice, Google.  After lasting only 14 hours of the planned 24 period and It being reported that “Remove google background” was the 5th biggest trending topic for that period on Google.  Google had this to say:

Today, we ran a special “doodle” that showcased this functionality by featuring a series of images as the background for our homepage. We had planned to run an explanation of the showcase alongside it—in the form of a link on our homepage. Due to a bug, the explanatory link did not appear for most users. As a result, many people thought we had permanently changed our homepage, so we decided to stop today’s series early. We appreciate your feedback and patience as we experiment and iterate.

Which you can read in its entirety here.

What is most interesting in this whole episode though is the apparent delight that Microsoft seems to have taken in Google’s latest experiment, with Microsoft Twitter accounts [1] reported as tweeting such things as:

How intriguing to see friends at Google borrowing the Bing homepage #photography idea.

amd

Imitation (however pale) is the sincerest form of flattery: a certain search engine put up the same pic (tulip fields) used on Bing long ago

Looking at claimed stats for search engine use, Google has over 65% whilst Bing, still coming behind Yahoo is around 11.5.  There’s nothing to rejoice here and what people need to remember when Microsoft touts a rapid rise in success in Bing, is that Bing is not a new product.  Its merely a rebranded MSlive, so this is not a case of Microsoft merely releasing a new product onto the market and meeting with instant success since it already had a user-base under its old handle which would have migrated when they re-branded.

So Microsoft wants to imply that Google would want to imitate them?  Exactly what do they want to imitate Microsoft? Your usage figures?  I don’t think so and Microsoft should consider that maybe their own small offering in the area of search could do with removing their background image since Google users don’t like it.  Microsoft won’t of course notice this and even mainstream sites are saying:

Google mimicked Bing’s look and feel deliberately so that its search-hungry masses would shout “Ugly!” and start plucking out their own eyes at the sight of sand dunes and stripes where once there was simple white space………this Bing-like monstrosity.

You can read the full article here (PCWorld), which also details other comments which have been made such as:

Google now as ghastly as Bing!

or

Bring back lovely Google blankness, destroy the Bing thing!

or

It looks as disgusting as Bing!

So whilst Microsoft rejoices it seems blissfully unaware of what people think of its product?  This to me is of little surprise, I think Microsoft always likes to dress its products up, to hide the shortcomings? Remember, it was Bill Gates who said:

If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.

Its seems Microsoft of 2010 will grasp any opportunity to gain a perceived “little victory” and who can blame them?  The Kin is failing to grasp the imagination of its target audience, the smart phone market seems awash (and unbreakable) with anything other than a Microsoft platform and all the while even the off the shelf press are now talking about alternatives to Microsoft products, something which was rather rare only a couple of years ago.

Microsoft, instead of taking delight in what you perceive is Google’s imitation, why not consider the reason that it failed?  Maybe you should consider a hugely unpopular feature which you use is not such a good idea after all.

Of course Microsoft won’t.  It will tell you what you want.  Microsoft knows best.

“I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea” – Because Microsoft tells you it was.

From where I am standing the only failure here is that it now appears that which Bing likes to define itself with (background images) appears hideously unpopular.

Notes

[1] How many Twitter accounts does Microsoft have? There’s certainly quite a few, ready to slither into action to pimp or defend a Microsoft product.  Maybe if they were removed Twitter wouldnt suffer so many #fail whales?😉

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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