Chris Smart writes about the latest money making schemes for OS distributors, Canonical is getting paid by Yahoo to make them stop using Google as the default Firefox search engine . I think this is OK, the user can easily change it back if desired and it allows them to pay the salaries of more employees – who contribute code back to upstream projects.
Above are sections of my Webalizer output related to my blog which show the data transfer use of search.msn.com (Bing presumably) which is 50% greater than that of Google and Yahoo combined. Why does MSN need to do 455MB of transfer so far this month to scan my blog when Google gets the job done with 189M and Yahoo only takes 109M? Also judging by the referrals Bing is only 3% as much use to me as Google.
Above is a sample of the Webalizer output from www.coker.com.au, MSN is using 525MB of data to scan the site which contains about 1.2G of static files that change very rarely. A Russian malware site seems to be downloading it three times a month, and Google only takes 35MB of data transfer to scan the site (which is probably still excessive).
If Bing was a quality search engine that returned appropriate results then this could be forgiven. But however it is a very poor search engine that returns bad results. For example if you query Google or Yahoo for “bonnie++” you will get an entire page of search results concerning my Bonnie++ benchmark, and those results are ordered in a sensible way. If you ask Bing then the first four results concern “Bonnie” (three women and a plant) and most of the first page don’t concern my benchmark.
Some time ago I had blocked MSN from scanning a server that I ran. The server in question had all the web servers for my domain plus quite a few other small domains. The total MSN data transfer was 3G per month which was almost half the data allowance for the server in question (data plans in Australia suck – that’s why my web servers are hosted in Germany now), so it was a question of whether to allow normal operation of the business or MSN searches. With Microsoft not running a popular search engine (then or now) it was an easy decision.
I think that anyone who accepts money from Microsoft/Bing is doing their users a mis-service. Bing is simply an inferior search engine, it gets bad results and imposes excessive costs on service providers. Yahoo however seems to be a reasonable service, not as good as Google for the web hosters but not too bad.
I wonder what would happen if Yahoo offered some sponsorship money to the Debian project in exchange for being the default search engine. I’m sure it would be dramatic.