One small Bing for the web, one giant leap for Microsoft

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Microsoft's much-vaunted

search engine just went live today and the reviews are in: it's a hit.

The US software giant is making no qualms about the need to make headway into the search business, one which is dominated by Google. Indeed, Google's ability to capture the search market appears close to insurmountable, with anywhere from a 60 per cent to 80 per cent market share, depending on what data you use.

Its need to make a splash was slowed considerably by last year's efforts in purchasing Yahoo, another beleaguered Web company, whose prospects seem to have been improved followed the appointment of new CEO

.

But credit has to be given to Microsoft for its continued efforts at innovating within the space. Bing is a sleek, fast-powered search tool that upon first glance, yields more interesting results than its counterparts. It also has tapped into the

goldmine of real-time trend tracking with "popular searches" (

to view local results in Arabian countries, although the service is not as robust as the US version)

More thoughts on Bing and what results it shows when searching for "Dubai" after the jump.

A search for "

", for example, presents information on the emirate in a clean, organised manner, displaying results on "maps", "tourism", and "hotels", et al. Those listings are also detailed on an easy-to-read sidebar which also includes popular related searched. Done correctly, such results may sway a number of tourism-related companies to increase its advertising budget with Microsoft than Google.

Other nifty tricks - as detailed on

- include previews of publicly-listed companies, video previews, the ability to e-mail search results, an RSS search feed and a "contains" search operator that easily lets you fine documents on the Web.

, which offers its own positive review on the new Microsoft service, opines that Bing may drive Yahoo to agree to some sort of partnership sooner than later:

If I were Yahoo and I was thinking of doing a search deal, I'd pull that trigger sooner rather than later. Yahoo wants a "boatload" of money to do a search deal or sell the company outright. Microsoft offered a boatload last year for either deal and couldn't get it done. If Bing is a hit, there's little reason for them to offer more. Google's blocked from working with Yahoo, so they aren't going anywhere.

is mixed on Bing, but says it holds promise as well.

Regardless of whether Bing is a hit (and something tells me it will be somewhat of a success), the fact that more companies are devoting more resources to improving search on the Internet is nothing but a good thing. In a space which it is near-impossible to usurp Google,

is a key example of search innovation capturing the minds of Web users, although many have said that its search syntax falls well short of being truly semantic.

Of course, Google has its own answer - the e-mail revamp entitled "

". The "collaboration" tool was apparently met with a standing ovation at the Google I/O conference last week, something that apparently rarely happens in tech circles. It's hard to say what exactly Google Wave will become, although I'm sure many developers are salivating at the opportunity to tap into Google's real-time data.