Microsoft’s Bing Is Bad Strategy

There’s been a lot of talk, of late, of Microsoft possibly abandoning Bing. Lets’s set aside the reliability of those rumors, the political intrigue involved and the practicality of implementing such a plan and look, instead, at the overall strategy that underlies Microsoft’s Bing.

In my opinion, Bing is, and has always been, bad strategy, plain and simple. Here’s why.

Money Instead Of Strategy

In warfare, if the commander values his troops, he expends brains instead of blood. Likewise, in business, if a CEO values his profits, he expends brains instead of cash.

Microsoft’s ironic problem is that they have far too much money. It’s just easier for them to throw money at a problem than to think it through. It’s been estimated that Bing has cost Microsoft as much as 17 billion dollars. There isn’t another company in the world that would have been willing to lose so much money without re-evaluating their strategy. Microsoft is like a despot that has unlimited manpower. They just keep throwing their troops (money) onto the spears of their opponents in the hope that they will, eventually, blunt those spears.

Attacking Where They Are Strongest

In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. ~ Sun Tzu

Well, “duh”, you’re saying. Of course one wants to avoid attacking where one’s opponent is strong.

But isn’t that exactly what Microsoft is doing with Bing? Google search is where Google is at its best. Attacking Google Search with Bing is like marching one’s troops directly into the mouths of the enemy’s cannons.


A siege is the most uneconomic of all operations of war. ~ B.H. Liddel Hart, Strategy

Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. ~ The Art of War

In my opinion, Bing vs. Google Search is the equivalent of a weaker army besieging a stronger army. It makes no sense.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not pleasant for Google. They have lost some market share. But it’s far worse for Microsoft. Microsoft is bleeding money while Google goes merrily along doing what Google does best. Google is sitting behind its moat and its walls and they are laughing all the way to the bank while they watch Microsoft fruitlessly bleed themselves by banging their heads against Google’s impregnable walls.


Attrition is a two-edged weapon and, even when skillfully wielded, puts a strain on the users. ~ B.H. Liddel Hart, Strategy

Microsoft is losing bucket loads of money on Bing and they’re gaining absolutely nothing in return. They have no hope of unseating Google in search. They’re not causing Google to lose any appreciable profits. Their strategy is not only backfiring, it’s actually counter-productive because it’s HELPING Google.

If Bing didn’t exist, Google would almost certainly be facing anti-trust and monopoly scrutiny from governments around the world. By subsidizing Bing with 17 billion dollars, Microsoft is actually HELPING Google by removing the onus of monopoly from their shoulders.

Some strategy, eh?


I seriously doubt that Microsoft is going to abandon Bing. They’re a proud and stubborn company. But as far as pure strategy goes, I can’t see it. It makes less than zero sense. It’s both a negative for Microsoft and a positive for Google. It’s not a strategy — it’s the antithesis of a strategy.

So, what do you think? Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments, below.


I often use quotes from my twitter stream in my articles. If you’re interested in following me, you can find me @johnkirk. I look forward to seeing you there.

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John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

2 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Bing Is Bad Strategy”

  1. Poignant assessment. Microsoft tends to believe in placeholders. They want to have “a horse in the race”, even before they’ve determined which direction that horse is going to run. Consider Internet Explorer.

    1. First, thank you for your kind words.

      Second, very much agree with your comment. Microsoft wants to be in every race without first assessing their straights and their reason for begin there. Very nicely put on your part.

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