Voice Search: Bing vs Google

November 3, 2017

We all know that Microsoft’s Bing has struggled to compete with Google Search. Will voice search level the field? Search Engine Watch ponders, “How Does Bing’s Voice Search Compare to Google’s?” Writer Clark Boyd acknowledges it does not seem Bing will eclipse Google as a whole anytime soon, but points to Microsoft’s new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa as evidence of change. The article delves into specifics about Microsoft’s voice-search technology, mostly with details on Cortana but also citing the voice search now found in their Edge browser. It also examines the company’s apparent strategy, which involves that partnership with Amazon and integration into popular platforms like Spotify.

Boyd next examines specific differences between the companies’ voice searches. For example, he states Cortana is better at understanding his Irish accent, and Cortana’s tie-in with Windows lends efficiency to task management. It is Boyd’s analysis of context, though, that I found most interesting. He writes:

When a user is logged in across Windows products, Cortana can serve accurate contextual results. See below for an example of the same phrase [“who are Leeds playing today?”] searched by voice on a Windows laptop using Cortana and Google. The differences are slight but telling. Cortana knows that I am currently in Spain (I am using a Windows laptop), and therefore provides the kick-off in my local time. Google is not privy to this information and serves the result in Eastern Time, as my account is based in the US. When results default to Bing, it all gets a little hairier. I follow up by asking who will be in the starting lineup and receive a bizarre result about the USA soccer team, a news story about a Leeds starting lineup from three years ago, and some news about the Leeds music festival. Google does a better job of this, but both lack the immediacy that integration with a social media feed would provide.


This same pattern plays out across a wide range of travel, weather, and commercial queries. When Cortana can pull an immediate answer, it does so very capable; when it resorts to providing a list of search results from Bing, the quality varies. Google, therefore, represents a much more consistent, reliable option.

Those last two sentences serve the differences in a nutshell. The article concludes with a handy graphic that compares and contrasts Microsoft’s and Google’s voice search pros, cons, and other differences. Will an alliance with Amazon help Bing narrow the distance between it and Google Search? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, November 3, 2017



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