There’s an interesting nugget about the much-maligned Bing search engine buried in Microsoft’s earnings:
“Search advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs grew 29% in constant currency with Bing US market share benefiting from Windows 10 usage,” Microsoft says in its press release.
Obviously, that “excluding traffic acquisition costs” is a big caveat, because we don’t know much Microsoft spends to attract each user, which has to be difficult when up against Google.
But the real takeaway there is that Windows 10 is a Bing honeypot trap.
Edge and Cortana <3 Bing
Every consumer edition of Windows 10 comes with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, which is kind of like Apple’s Siri with an attitude. When you ask Cortana to run a web search, it opens up in Bing.
Not only does it open up in Bing — by default, it will open up in the Microsoft Edge web browser that also comes with Windows 10. And Microsoft Edge searches Bing by default, plus it actually makes it a little difficult to switch to any other search provider.
It’s a big part of why Microsoft was toying with the idea of begging users not to switch Edge from being their default browser in Windows 10. The more they use Edge, the more they will use Bing, more likely than not.
Crucially, though, Microsoft only gets away with this even as far as it has because both Edge and Cortana are useful tools. And Windows 10 itself is pretty great in its own right.
And it’s working: Bing search advertising revenue is up. People like using Windows 10, people like using the included software, and Bing benefits.
Maybe it won’t be challenging Google in market share any time soon. But as people use Windows 10 more and more, Bing could stand to become a nice little business for Microsoft in its own right.