Microsoft Tries to Force You to Use Bing

Microsoft really knows marketing. But its latest (unintentional) attempt to promote the new search engine Bing may have gone over the line. According to reports, a glitch in Internet Explorer 6 forced Bing onto users as the default search engine. Even when users manually altered their preferences, Bing emerged once again.

Search Engine Land contacted Microsoft about the bug. Microsoft acknowledged the problem and responded at 2:45 a.m. that the bug is now fixed. (Update: Microsoft got back to us Thursday morning with this comment: "On Tuesday night we corrected the issue with Bing on machines running IE6. The issue was a server side issue with Bing, not Internet Explorer. This issue did not impact IE7 and IE8 users.") End of story, right?

Perhaps. But when you take Microsoft's history into consideration, the force-feeding of Bing almost makes sense. I am not suggesting Microsoft intentionally created this bug to get people hooked on Bing. I am saying there's a correlation between the problem at hand and problems Microsoft have encountered in the past.

Let's look at IE8, for example. When the Windows 7 Release Candidate was updated a month ago, IE8 was automatically pushed as the default browser. This caused competitors Opera and Firefox to raise a battle cry, claiming Microsoft was once again forcing its hand in the browser wars. Further governmental investigation was even suggested. But Microsoft shrugged the episode off, and a workaround was quickly discovered.

It's the little chinks in Microsoft's armor that gives the company its overarching bad name. This latest episode is just one scratch of a million that ought to give consumers pause when trusting Microsoft.

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