Bing gains search share after Windows 10 gives it a hand

Search query volume up 5% since Windows 10's launch, beats industry growth average

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Search queries on Bing in the U.S. last month increased by the largest margin since Windows 10's launch, hinting that Microsoft's strategy to embed the search engine in the OS may be working.

Bing's query volume climbed 2.6% to 3.8 billion in October, according to measurement vendor comScore, easily trumping the 1.6% increase of September. Meanwhile, Bing's share of the U.S. desktop search market grew to 20.8% last month, a one-tenth of a percentage point gain, up four-tenths of a point since July.

Google remained the U.S. search leader by a wide margin, with a share of 63.9% -- the same as in September -- while Yahoo and AOL posted lower search shares in October than the month before.

Bing's query gains, however, were more interesting, as they signaled some success in drawing people to Microsoft's search engine by heavily integrating it with the new Windows 10.

In late July, David Pann, the general manager of the Bing Ads group, told online advertisers that Microsoft expected a 10% to 15% jump in Bing's search queries by September because of Windows 10. Bing is set as the search engine for Edge, the default browser of Windows 10, and is also used by other components of the OS, including the Start menu's search tool and the Cortana virtual assistant.

Microsoft subsequently yanked the blog post where Pann made his prediction.

Since Windows 10's launch, the number of Bing search queries in the U.S. has increased by 4.9%, or about half Pann's lower-end estimate.

Part of Bing's query increase was due to an inflation in all U.S. queries -- in the three months from August through October, the query total grew by 2.8%. But Bing did better than the average, and so increased its share from July's 20.4%, showing that Microsoft was making headway.

It's no surprise that Microsoft has banked on Bing growth: The Redmond, Wash., company hoped that increased advertising revenue from Bing searches would replace some of the money lost as Windows license sales continue to fall.

bing search up october comScore

U.S. search queries are up 5% since Windows 10's debut, but they're short of the 10% to 15% increases that a Microsoft manager forecast in the summer.

One possible cause of the slower-than-expected increase in Bing queries may be Edge: Windows 10 users have not warmed to the new browser. In October, Edge accounted for 34% of the browsers run on Windows 10, a one-month slip of nearly three percentage points, according to metrics company Net Applications.

If Microsoft had optimistically forecast a higher Edge adoption rate, it may explain Pann's projection that Bing queries would quickly climb two or even three times the 5% they actually increased over the last three months.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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