Recently, two new web-search engines have been launched, Wolfram's Alpha and Microsoft's Bing. Are they serious challengers to Google's dominance or will they follow other recently hyped upstarts like cuil into the dustbin of history?
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Wolfram|AlphaProvided by Wolfram best known for their computational software Mathematica.
Introductory video from Wolfram.
Stephen Wolfram refers to it as a "computational knowledge engine" rather than a search engine.
It's built using Wolfram's Mathematica for performing calculations using reference data compiled from sources such as the CIA's World Fact Book and Wikipedia. As such, its "knowledge" is rather patchy and as a consequence a traditional search-engine, such as Google, is better at providing answers to the sorts of queries Alpha is meant for.
- Google already has the ability to perform calculations and source reference material.
- Google has recently added the ability to search and compare (US) public data. Perhaps we can thank Alpha for spurring this sort of innovation.
- The article Another pretender to the throne is fairly critical of it, and so far our experience matches the author's comments.
BingIntroductory video from Microsoft.
According to Microsoft, Bing is a "decision engine".
- It categorises search results (you can click a category to refine your search)
- It provides pop-up preview of each search result
- Other search features: Health, News, Shopping, Travel, Images, Video, Maps (some of these aren't available outside the US).
The New York Post (tabloid) reports that Bing has so worried Google that "co-founder Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service". Most likely a sensationalised report of reality but if nothing else at least Bing is spurring innovation.
Are Alpha & Bing good tools? Yes
Are they going to knock Google off its perch? Unlikely
What should you do? As always, judge for yourselves. Keep on eye on these tools as they will continue to evolve and improve with time, and will continue to provide healthy competition for Google.