Bing launch wrap up

binglogo_thumb_01ee3c3b Bing Bing launched this week, revealing the new name and “decision engine” tagline,  a new more organized layout for search results, tighter integration for verticals like Shopping (including Bing cashback), Travel (including the Farecast technology for predicting airfares and now hotel fares), Health, and Maps (no new UI as yet but it’s now Bing Maps and Bing Maps for Enterprise (was Virtual Earth)).

First, the name.  Of course we’ve been following the naming trail since last year, and noted that Bing and Kumo seemed to be on parallel tracks.  While Bing was chosen early on in the process, Kumo was along for the ride, but for some very specific reasons, as it turns out.

Switching from Live Search to a whole new namespace, code base, and network required lots of work and advanced planning, and the move to Kumo internally last March was as much a trial of that switch as it was an opportunity for MS employees to provide feedback on Bing.

In talking to Yusuf Mehdi at a Bing party at SMX Advanced on Tuesday evening, it was clear that Bing had always been the name.  He said he was hesitant to even use it in conversations internally, just so he wouldn’t let it slip by mistake.

At SMX Advanced, Danny Sullivan interviewed Qi Lu onstage, where he announced that the preview tag had been taken off Bing in the United States.  Bing remains in beta in other parts of the world, and in a post on the ClickZ blog, Jack Marshall notes:

Though Bing officially launches in the U.S. today, it remains in beta internationally. Microsoft hopes to launch outside of the U.S. within months, but definitely by the end of the year.

Here’s a little snippet from the interview, where Qi Lu is asked about the future of the Live brand:

[view:http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=7a7a986d-3355-444b-aca4-dcd88e8b9e7f:400]

We’ve been impressed by the lack of technical glitches in the launch, and the thorough job of making the brand switch.  Of course there have been some issues, and having China block www.cn.bing.com didn’t help, but other than delaying the launch until after June 4th, we’re not sure what Microsoft could have done differently in that case.  Hotmail and Live.com are apparently back up in China, but Bing remains blocked, as does Twitter and Flickr, and many Chinese sites are undergoing simultaneous “site maintenance”.

Bing commercials were running on a number of television shows here in the US last night, and Bing has launched, seems to be up and running well, and the ad campaign has started.  Now the real fun begins, to see how well Bing does in the marketplace.