Recently, Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), known for their Windows operating system, MS Office suite and Office Live online services has decided to re-brand their Live web search service to Bing. At first look, Bing already appears different then the traditional web search engines. The layout is considerably different then what most are used to with the popular Google Search engine from Google Corporation (GOOG). Instead of just offering a plain white page with a list of possible matches, Bing offers the user with results, and a menu of other possible actions. For instance, a search for Mustang pulls up pictures of Ford Mustangs, listings for the car, and a menu with such options as parts, sale, and accessories.
While Microsoft isn’t new to the search engine world, Bing is certainly a different approach to web search, and they appear to be banking on this new concept to provide them with the edge to gain market share in the search realm dominated by Google. Goggle (GOOG), who has controlled the web search market for more then 10 years will prove to be a tough obstacle for Bing and has stopped many other competitors from advancing so far. Bing may actually be the first search engine to challenge Google Search in quite some time, but it will require Microsoft (MSFT) to market the search engine intelligently, and continue to refine its effectiveness so that it offers a true advantage over its dominate competitor.
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With Yahoo (YHOO) on unstable ground lately, and being passed over by Microsoft (MSFT) in their negotiations for a partnership, it is doubtful they will have much traction against Bing. The Yahoo! Search engine has become more of a portal for those that sign up for Yahoo Mail. People use it when it’s there and convenient, but the majority still seem to prefer the old trusty white page offered by Goggle Search. Google’s search engine thrives off of being simple, and that is one factor that might play against Bing. Yahoo has suffered from cluttering up their home page, and this is one of the reasons they have lost appeal. Many other search engines have suffered from this as well, and quite a few have all but disappeared from the radar after Google (GOOG) launched their Google Search.
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However, if they can provide excellent service, good results, and easy to access information without excessive movement required by the user, they may well have a huge hit on their hands. From what I have seen so far, they are well on their way. So far, most of the reviews have been fairly positive after they corrected a few minor issues, and adjusted some content filtering. I’m not sure it is ready to replace Goggle Search just yet, but in the near future, it may well be sitting side by side with it.
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Microsoft is a secure company whether or not Bing ever gets off of the ground or not. The price of Microsoft’s stock has been fairly stagnant over the last eight years, with some recent downside action. A strong company like Microsoft with a stagnant stock price is a good candidate for a covered call investing strategy. There are many covered call strategies, but entering covered calls for strong companies with a stagnant stock price can be considered as similar to receiving a dividend, even when the company does not pay a dividend. Writing covered calls is very easy, an investor simply sells a call option against a purchase of 100 shares of stock. A covered calls position for Microsoft is currently available for August 2009 expiration with a potential return of 4.9%. This return can potentially be experienced in only 53 days. And as long as the call option expires worthless, call options can be sold against the Microsoft stock again the following month. So instead of receiving quarterly dividends, as dividends are generally paid, a covered call investing strategy can pay a monthly dividend.
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[tags] MS Office, Office Live, Bing, Ford Mustang, Google Search, Yahoo! Search, Yahoo Mail, dividend, GOOG, Google Inc., MSFT, Microsoft Corp., YHOO, Yahoo Inc. [/tags]