Written off by many, exiled as irrelevant by others, the past week has seen software giant Microsoft rise as a phoenix from the flames, reconfirming its status as a technology powerhouse in a blaze of glory. From its search engine Bing catching up with Google in the search stakes to several significant product launches at the global technology trade event Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft is back like it's 1999.
In a crucial week for the internet, Microsoft's Bing became the second most popular search engine in the US after overtaking Yahoo! and Google came under fire for integrating its industry leading Search service with its social network Google+. Outraging its competitors and provoking an online backlash, Google's new Search plus Your World (SPYW) has inadvertently put Microsoft back in the search driving seat.
Google enjoys an overwhelming 65.9% share in the US search market, with Microsoft's Bing a distant second with 15.1% - so why is Google in danger? While Google has enjoyed the limelight and status as media darling, Microsoft has been quietly working on its products, putting money in the right places and forging strategic alliances.
Penning a deal with Yahoo! back in 2009, Bing now powers Yahoo!'s search engine. When combining Bing with Yahoo!'s search share, the true representation for Microsoft's search reach is close to 30% - a much closer and threatening second place. Google is well aware of the danger, it reportedly pays Firefox $300 million per year as part of a three-year move to cement its position through temporary search acquisition.
Traditional search share is not the only area Microsoft is putting its money, Bing is the closest social search engine rival to Google's SPYW. Unlike Google, Microsoft has partnered with Facebook and Twitter to enhance its search results with a social stream, real time news updates and user generated impressions. SPYW on the other hand returns biased results influenced and indexed by your Google+ connections - the world according to Google.
There's a reason Google is number one and it will undoubtedly continue to dominate the search market for years to come, but Microsoft's matured Bing offers online users a very credible alternative. Microsoft's reemergence is a reminder in an immediate industry that the pioneers should never be discounted - Microsoft knows how to fight and it's not afraid of playing the long game.
Game on, Google.
Follow Dan Bulteel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danbulteel