Microsoft's decision engine hit a wall Thursday. Bing.com suffered an outage lasting half an hour, during which some users were unable to get to the site while those who reached the site didn't receive any results from their queries.
Microsoft's Satya Nadella, vice president of online services, said the outage was due to a configuration change during internal testing.
"Unfortunately the detection and rollback took about half an hour, and during that time users were unable to use bing.com," Nadella said. "As soon as the issue was detected, the change was rolled back, which caused the site to return to normal behavior."
Microsoft's engineers are running tests to figure out how the software and processes need to be improved to prevent future outages.
Bing's blooper comes just one day after the decision engine underwent a change to its service, included a new beta mapping feature. Bing Maps, like Google Maps, now offers street-side and aerial views.
Bing Maps uses an online application called Photosynth that pulls photos together, then converts them into a 3-D model called a synth. The application enables users to zoom in and out on any location. It also gives a user a 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
Outages like the one Bing suffered are expected, say analysts.
"Outages are a fact of life, whether it is a blackout or a service down," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "The key is frequency and length of the outage that causes consumer frustration. Certainly neither seems to be an issue for Microsoft. By contrast, Google's outages for various services might have caused grumbles, but few defections."
Bing vs Google
While Bing's outage may have been short, the decision engine doesn't have much room for error in a search market where it is aggressively competing against a dominant Google.
Since launching in July, Microsoft has been heavily marketing Bing as a decision engine that helps searchers find more than just answers or URLs. Microsoft's search deal with Yahoo, if it passes regulatory hurdles, is expected to bolster search revenues for both companies.
Google has 65.4 percent of the U.S. market, while Bing currently has 9.9 percent, according to comScore.
Although the search-advertising market has contracted for the last 18 months, Microsoft executives are already seeing a change for the better and say they expect the number of advertisers to increase in the next six to 12 months.
Microsoft's engineers cannot promise Bing will work all the time, but Nadella said they're trying. "We strive to maintain a high standard of operational excellence at Bing," he said.