Nov 4, 2019

Microsoft's Bing and browser pivot to business

Microsoft's revamped Edge browser has a new rendering engine and a focus on business users. Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is announcing today that its Bing search engine and Edge web browser will now focus primarily on business users.

Why it matters: For Bing, the move is a recognition that a years-long effort to take on Google in the broad-based search business has failed. In browsers, meanwhile, the shift is a sign of how far the mighty have fallen: Two decades ago, Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominated the browser market so thoroughly it was seen as a monopoly.

Details: Microsoft is adding new features to the products to enhance their business appeal, including unified web search with search on a company's internal network, as well as new privacy and security features.

"We’re trying to stake a claim of saying we are the best browser and search engine for business users," Longtime Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi said in an interview. "We think people who browse the web in general may actually want to use it for their personal lives."That said, not many consumers have been choosing Microsoft for their browsing or search needs.

  • Microsoft's browsers have been losing share for some time, largely to Google's Chrome but also to Firefox and Apple's Safari. Globally, neither IE nor Edge are in the top 5 browsers, with even Opera and Samsung ahead of Microsoft's two offerings. In the U.S., Microsoft fares somewhat better, with Edge the No. 4 browser with nearly 4% of the market and IE holding 3.2%, per StatCounter.
  • In search, Bing has less than 3% of the global market, with Google having more than 90%. In the U.S., Bing holds 6.3%, with Google controlling more than 88%.

In addition to repositioning its Edge browser, Microsoft has been busy swapping out its core rendering engine to use Chromium, the engine that powers Chrome and a number of other browsers.

  • The newly revamped Edge is being made available now as a release candidate, with broad availability scheduled for mid-January.
  • Microsoft is making the announcements at its Ignite conference, which kicks off today in Orlando.

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