In the last major update to our CyberSearch Firefox extension we decided to add in some basic support for Bing searching. It had been requested by quite a few users, and even though I personally prefer Google over Bing I wanted to make sure that our users had a choice. As it turns out the way our extension works doesn’t abide by their terms of service. During what they call a “routine audit” (they ironically contacted me 2-days after the public release of IE9 Beta) they found that my extension violated this restriction:

You will not, and will not permit your users or other third parties to […] modify, filter, obscure, or replace the text, images, or other content of Bing results, including by changing the order in which Bing results appear (but this limitation will not apply to Bing results of type “Web”), intermixing Bing results with search results from other sources, or intermixing with Bing results any other content so that the other content appears to be part of Bing results

This reminded me of when Apple wouldn’t approve Google Voice apps because they thought users would get it confused with the built-in dialer since they looked so much alike. Come on, if you managed to find and download the app you know exactly what you are doing.

They also pointed out that I wasn’t giving “attribution” for the results. I contacted someone I know at Microsoft to get their thoughts on all of this (who was actually one of the people that had requested Bing support). They said that the way I had it implemented made it clear to users when they were using Bing, and that this shouldn’t be a problem if they actually tried out my extension first-hand. He said he’ll have someone look into it for me, but I said not to bother.

I didn’t want to fight the situation because this just made it obvious to me that they are looking out for themselves rather than the developers/users. The impression I got from my interaction with the consulting firm is that they are more concerned with their brand than they are the user experience. Overall it just left a really bad taste in my mouth.

With all that being said the latest update to CyberSearch removes Bing and migrates any of your Bing-related settings over to Google. This version also includes some bug fixes… namely full compatibility with the latest night builds of Firefox 4.0. You can stay on the old version if you still want to use Bing, but keep in mind that the upcoming Firefox 4.0 Beta 7 will break the extension if you don’t update.

CyberSearch Homepage