back to article Microsoft's Bing in travel trouble

Microsoft's Bing has run in to trouble for allegedly looking too much like a smaller rival's search service. Kayak.com, an airline search engine, has complained to Microsoft that the look and feel of Bing's travel service looks too much like its own, and that this will confuse users. "We have contacted them through official …

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  1. Turnip Boy
    WTF?

    I'm sorry what?

    wtf? white background + orange submit button only damned similarity

    that's like saying google search looks to much like yahoo search because the links are the same colour, bloody stupid moronic little companies trying to drum up a bit of free publicity.

  2. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    Wot a load of tosh

    Once you remove all the stuff that's the same, it's totally different!

  3. Ed
    Unhappy

    Certainly similar

    I'd say theres more similarities there than could be explained as coincidence... Looks like schoolboy plagiarism to me - changing a few words using a thesaurus and some superficial elements.

  4. Mike Richards

    Front page looks different, but...

    Do a query for flights and the results pages look very similar - especially the selection of gadgets on the left-hand margin - check out the sliders which let you change flight times - odd that two companies would hit on the same solution when a menu is more common.

  5. Ned Ludd
    Thumb Down

    I'm so confused!

    That's it! I'm canceling my holiday this year because there's no way in hell I'll ever figure out which site is which. I just hope someone from Microsoft is going to explain it to the kids!

  6. Efros
    FAIL

    Bollocks

    The pair of them look like any other booking/search page from any number of ticket/travel agents.

  7. Neil Woolford
    Headmaster

    I think I'm with Kayak on this one...

    I know there are certain elements that will always be common across sites doing similar jobs, but I've spent a few minutes playing with the hotels section of both sites, and they are very similar, not only at first sight but also when you get on to the way the results pages function and are laid out. Though for my money Kayak is tidier and has some useful bookmarking features.

    If you compare Kayak and Bing to, for example, laterooms.com you'll find a very different look, feel and functions for the same task of finding accommodation. (Only laterooms has a crumb trail, results presented as a table rather than a series of individual panels as in the other two, very different map presentation...)

    I think there's a case to answer.

    And I just have to use that icon! Whacko! (Though not Wacko, not any more anyway.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    What a load of old bull

    Is it just me or do they look totally different?

    I thought I'd clicked the wrong links.

  9. Synja
    FAIL

    I fail to see it.

    ZOMG... They offer deals on Hotels, Airlines, AND Cruise packages.

    AND LOOK!!! THEY HAVE AN ORANGE BUTTON!!!!

    Obvious ripoff. Somehow, I really don't see Microsoft ripping something off in that manner. Quite honestly, Microsoft has an extremely skilled marketing and design section. They would not copy a crapshoot of a search engine like Kayak.

  10. Brian Gannon

    Stop. Lawyer Time

    Looks like a case for the idea expression dichotomy. Do yourself a favour and don’t look it up.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    @Certainly Similar

    I agree they do seem very similar in "look & feel", the thing is though there's only so many ways you can arrange a basic set of components on a web page in a usable manner, plus there's an added constraint that you don't want to make it too unorthodox/different that people can't instantly work out how to use it - i'd say it's just a coincidence, and given the multitude of web pages out there, there's a pretty good chance they'd end up with something similar to someone - it's only news cos it's microsoft.

  12. Jimbo 7

    well

    the search looks very similar

    you have toy admit that kayak was first, they came with this idea when creepy yahoo travel was doing very very horrible travel search job

    fu**k off BING, that's all you can do?

  13. James 8

    Opportunist

    Oh dear, looks like any ticket search site will have to watch out for the same case against them.

    If you're searching for air fares or any other ticket price then there's certain information you need. There's only so many sane ways to present requests for that information.

    A quick search for fare searching sites will show you a half-dozen who ask for, surprise surprise, the same information. Kayak are just going after MS because they figure they've got money, and might have the courts on their side.

  14. Jan 7
    Pint

    big difference:

    bing comes up without the big "you have disabled java" message. Of course both pages need some kind of scripting, so both wont work without exeptions in noscript. Only Kayak tells you beforehand ;)

    CONCLUSION: bing looks better on first impression, easy to begin with, utter crap if you actually try to use it -> certainly a true Mirco§oft product.

    beer, since I still try to find out what in those glasses. lemme have ´nother sip.

  15. Michael 28
    Badgers

    Meh!

    Who can afford to travel these days anyhoo...and would you really fly after booking thru ms?

    (ahh! blue sky blue sea, blue....screen?)

    BTW ... can we have a chandler bing icon?

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/090529-113712

  16. ark

    has to be similar

    It is a travel comparision , so that the majority of the web form has to be the same.

    and the rest does actually look different.

    only the color of the button is something that might cause confusions amongst lawyers.

  17. Sonya Fox
    FAIL

    Trolling for lawsuits

    Other than the general layout it isn't that similar. All travel sites are layed out like that because it's convenient and obvious. Methinks someone might be not be able to see that because of the dollar signs welling up in their eyes.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Free Marketing

    Whether similar or not, a nice bit of free marketing for Kayak....

    Interesting that the Farecast pages used by Bing Travel seem to be written in JSP using Struts - wonder how that sits with the brainwashed .NET masses in Redmond??

  19. Kevin Thomas
    FAIL

    @Turnip Boy

    You sure you're looking at the right site?

    As Ed said...looks like their designer doesn't have an original idea in his head!

  20. iamapizza
    Alert

    Welcome to the Internet

    To those who do find that the two sites look similar, I'd like to be the first to welcome you to the Internet, took you long enough to join us!

    Your first lesson will be in how to pay attention to detail and not assume that a 'white background' entails copying.

  21. Ralph B

    EasyPeasy

    Orange buttons on flight-booking sites? I reckon they'll both be hearing from Stelios' lawyers.

  22. DHBI

    ...and here's another one

    And here's another orange-coloured website that allows you to book flights

    http://www.easyjet.com/en/book/index.asp

    it's a conspiracy.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're taking the piss

    I've just spent twenty minutes playing spot the difference and I get the feeling that if I continued it would take the best part of a day to find them all.

    The only real similarity is the multi-city button which once selected on Bing you can't navigate out of . On Kayak you can use the browser "Previous Page" button on Bing you have to reload the page, at least in Firefox.

    Note to Microsoft and Kayak: If I see a "single city" radio button I want paying for the idea.

  24. LuMan
    Stop

    I'm with Turnip Boy on this

    The sites aren't too familiar at all. One uses vertical menues, one uses horizontal tabs. The imagery is different and one has an extra radio button too!!

    Other than you having to enter outbound and return dates and destination (meh) there's not a great deal in common.

  25. Joe H.
    Happy

    Contractors!

    Why not recycle code, it worked fine the first time, eh?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Who?

    Sounds like publcity angling to me....

    Never heard of Kayak,

    although the similarity is that I'd probably never use either in the future.

    I have used bing twice , once as was suckered in by the launch prublicity. The second time was to check to see i had been fair and it was as awful as i recalled.

  27. bertie bassett
    Happy

    and Expedia and the others

    Hmm looks a bit like Expedia, ebookers, skyscanner and the others.

    How original of Kayak to give punters a choice of locations to fly from and too, and offering what dates are available, then asking would they like hotels, car hire and the rest..

    If there are 100 independent travel sites (complete random guess) and the functionality of all of them is the same then they're going to look similar innit

  28. Ian Davies
    WTF?

    "Independent Development"

    My ass... at first I was just looking at the search page and thought "yeah, well there's only so many ways you can lay out a form like that - I'd probably do something similar" but then I hit 'search' on both sites and.... uh... someone's been a naughty boy!

    I don't know if Farecast looked the same before MS got hold of it, or if it's not so clear cut as to which site came first, but to suggest that someone came up with the same things like the sliders to modify the flight times completely independently is utter bullshit.

    Like I say, I don't know the history of the two sites/technologies but Microsoft's track record at being "inspired" by other people's work isn't great...

  29. Mike007

    hu?

    similarities i can see: orange button, the details entered in to the form, the options for what to search for are mostly the same

    the options for what to search for happen to be the basic categories of things you might want on a holiday, obviously not just copied as anyone would come up with the same

    the details to enter in to the form are the same basic details *every* travel site asks for

    so we're left with "it has an orange submit button"? i have a website with one of those on, i better contact a lawyer!

  30. northern monkey
    Badgers

    (this is not a title)

    They definitely seem to share similar elements, and the texts next to controls are almost identical. Could MS just have looked at various other sites for inspiration and have gotten a bit carried away, or is it something far more sinister. Has anyone diff-ed the page source?

  31. N2 Silver badge

    What?

    Microsoft copy something?

    No, no, the never do that

  32. Fractured Cell
    Pirate

    Any tech suficiantly advanced can be misconstrued as magic

    Oooh, can i get a job at Micro$oft as master HTML wizard then?

    "Your job today is to create a travel search site."

    OK, Kayak.com.

    View>Source

    Ctrl-A

    Ctrl-C

    Open Dreamweaver

    Ctrl-V

    Save

    That'll be 7.5 Billion, thank you very much.

    in cash, and small bills please.

  33. Phaedrus
    Black Helicopters

    cash and fame

    Just a quick grab to grab some headlines and free visitors if you ask me. There's maybe 2 or 3 items that "could" be deemed as similar when you take out standard sections such as prividing a start date, end date, destination etc.

  34. SuperTim
    FAIL

    Very similar in content.

    To the few posters above who don't see the similarities, try looking at the few options you have. They are in the same order, have the same wording and offer the same functionality.

    Take away the design and these sites are almost identical (and different from other search sites).

    It would appear that bing isn't "all that and a bag of potato chips" after all.

  35. sabroni Silver badge
    FAIL

    both crap because

    neither manage to work without Javascript enabled. It's just an html form posting some search criteria back...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    amadeus.net

    Anyone checked out the website of the CRS amadeus.net? Looks like both Kayak and Bing are basically following whatever the backend amadeus provides!

  37. Lukin Brewer

    They look the same...

    ...as every other travel planner type web page. There are umpteen other companies that Kayak could have gone after, but, I suppose, few with the "give us a six figure sum and we'll let you market your new toy in peace" potential that Microsoft has here.

  38. nichomach
    Pirate

    I'd agree...

    It's simply too close to be coincidence. Perhaps Microsoft didn't intentionally lift the design, but the Farecast.com outfit that they acquired might have...?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Identical

    Both have search buttons, both have from/to boxes, both do flights and hotels, both allow you to pick departure and arrival times/dates...wtf? Don't all travel sites have the same features?

    This smacks of Kayak drumming up free publicity and extra traffic with a vexatious claim.

    Oh, there is one big difference. One is named after a dead crooner and the other after a type of canoe. A canoe without a paddle and stranded up shit creek.

  40. Rod MacLean
    WTF?

    Not *quite* identical

    "wtf? white background + orange submit button only damned similarity"

    Didn't look at the radio buttons, drop down menus or anything other than the colours, did you?

    If two students both handed in web sites like these for an assessment, there would be questions asked...

  41. Ginger

    no surprise

    small internet search specialist in "Microsoft please buy me" shocker.

  42. Daniel 1

    Overall form layout is very very similar

    Source code shows that this is about the only residual similarity (although why sites like Bing even bother including a DOCTYPE - especially a strict one - when they get their headers so borked, is beyond me).

    My guess is that, at an early stage, some devs (probably at Farecast) took a quick look around the web, found Kayak and copied the overall layout of its submission form as a prototype. A screenshot of the prototype then got welded into some early requirements document, and this document then fell into the hands of the pointy-haired division. The pointy haired division then convenend an endless succession of meetings and extended lunches, during which they all agreed on absolutely nothing, except that the layout of the submission form Must Not Change (as pointy haired bosses are wont to do).

    I'm sure anyone who has worked in software long enough has seen this happen: the product is eventually delivered, five years late and twenty billion dolllars over budget, running at one twentieth of its original speed, and with nine million lines of unecessary code behind it - but it it still sports a front end that took five minutes to come up with on day one.

    The irony? Farecast's developers probably fired up Google and typed in "Travel bookings flights hotels", or some such.

  43. Marvin the Martian
    Megaphone

    Major similarities.

    They both have ridiculous names?

  44. Andy ORourke
    Stop

    @ Turnip Boy

    Agree completley, Orange submit button & white background. The rest is completley different

    Chancers at Kayak trying to get some more page hits / exposure

  45. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Gates Horns

    MS "seeking inspiration" from elsewhere for a UI?

    Say it ain't so, Mama.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Dodgy claim....

    I'd say Ed is likely to be one of those 'it's M$, therfore it's evil'. While a reasonable assumption in some ways (Only the ultimate evil would inflict SharePoint on the human race).

    Given what both sites aim to do, there are only so many ways you can present 'From', 'To' and 'When'. I can think of about a half dozen sites (skyscanner.net, travelsupermarket.com and others) who could fall foul of this kind of publicity grabbing nonsense.

    Bing and Kayak's sites are not even close, other than the orange buttons. The bloody big cheesy Bing banner and slicker looking tabs etc are a stark contrast to Kayak's smaller, more discreet, logo and side-listed menu approach.

    Lets face it, Kayak are using legal mechanisms for publicity and should be treated accordingly.

  47. Geoff Mackenzie
    WTF?

    I don't know ...

    The code is, at least superficially, completely different (broken HTML 4.01 Strict from Farecast / MS, broken XHTML 1.0 Transitional from Kayak). The form seems to be asking for roughly the same details, but any two sites performing this function would be likely to ask for, and try to provide, roughly the same information, so no surprise there. Are Kayak objecting to Farecast's fare prediction, on the grounds that it's too similar in their view to their own 'Fare Buzz'? The two, as far as I can see from a cursory look, are totally different technologies - Farecast seems to be trying to predict fare changes based on analysis of trends, while Fare Buzz looks to be identifying cheap fares based on recent searches.

    Vauxhall didn't rip off the Fiesta when they designed the Corsa; two fairly formulaic solutions to the same problem are likely to look quite similar without plagiarism necessarily being involved.

  48. Mark Wills
    WTF?

    So...

    Kayak spot an outside chance that the sites look similar, and then, I ask, how did this story get into the media?

    Could it be that they issued a press release to all and sundry, having the effect (completely un-intended of course) of driving up their web business, and getting lots of free advertising.

    Publicity hunting tards. You fell for it too, by beloved Reg. But we still love you!

    [PS: Loving the new icons!]

  49. Neil Stansbury
    Stop

    Bastards

    "Microsoft you stole my idea for an orange search button you bastards how could you. Don't you know orange buttons with the word "search" on are our idea - and that that single orange search button is the key to our success."

    Kayak - if that is your sole innovation and the key to your branding I think you need to hire some more talented staff. I take it your service must suck if you are so worried by such triviality?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh my god!

    There are exactly the same, you can book flights on them both! I've done some further digging and there are some other identical sites, there is one called lastminute something or other and you should see the ones the airlines have got as well, they are all ripping of kayak, the bastards...

    This is sooo bloody stupid it is beyond belief and I cannot believe you guys have even given it any space.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Don't know m8

    Ava gander

    http://www.bing.com/travel/

    http://www.kayak.co.uk/

    http://easyjet.com/en/book/index.asp

    http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/

    There seems to be an uncanny similarity for sure and such similarities include (without exclusion):

    a from airport

    a to airport

    a departure date

    a return date

    a departure time

    a return time

    a an assumption/clarification about one way or return

    a flight reference

    a how many passengers thingy request

    Now that kayak have made the observation it really does seem to be uncannily exact.

    (mind you, it wouldn't surprise me if the MS designer actually took influence from kayak as it seems easier to imitate?)

  52. Tom 106
    Troll

    TV Adverts.

    Perhaps either MS or Kayak should embark on their own version of "compare the meerkats" type tv adverts to sort out their differences........or would that gain it's complaint?

  53. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Gates Halo

    Not similar

    The similarities are related to the function: forms for start, destination, dates; all obvious for anyone who has ever booked a flight. To my eye, the "look and feel" is quite different.

    Plus, kayak requires Javascript.

    Oh, I forgot, "bing" and "kayak" are pronounced the same, sure to cause confusion!

    Never thought I'd have a use for this icon...

  54. Andy Fletcher

    As the Nappster guy said...

    ...in Futurama:

    "You can't shut us down. The internet is about the free exchange and sale of other people's ideas. We've done nothing wrong. "

  55. Michael Fremlins

    To everyone who can't see a likeness...

    do a search.

    There are obvious similarities in the way the results are presented. As Kayak did this first, I'm with Kayak on this.

  56. Marc-Oliver Kalis
    Linux

    @ amadeus.net

    That is probably, because pretty much every travel-agency that thinks a little bit of itself is connected to Amadeus, since all airlines are connected to Amadeus and most other "travel-media" as in ships, trains etc.

    Amadeus is a virtual standard in the travel industry.

    It is as essential to have it as a travel agent, as is a SITA link-up for an airport.

    Tux - because I like it.

  57. Robert Ramsay
    Coat

    just goes to show...

    you can't have your Kayak and eat it...

  58. Scott A. Brown

    Nice bit of free advertising

    Any travel website can claim similarities be it flights, trains or whatever as they all need a from, to, via, arrive, return, number of people etc selection on them.

    Still, good bit of free advertising for a website I'd never heard of.

  59. John70
    FAIL

    Fail

    Kayak's claim is EPIC FAIL!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    look deeper guys

    Its not just the front page - I agree every travel booking form looks much of a such at that level. But when you drill down, all the other pages are also uncannily similar. There's a limit at which you think, hang on, these are the same site, just rebranded...

  61. Pandy06269
    WTF?

    No similarity

    We wrote a piece of software in-house to display availability prices to our travel agents. It looked similar to the software they used previously that was provided by an external company.

    Why was this?

    Because there are only so many way you can display: East Midlands to Kefalonia on the 20th August will cost you £499.

    The way Bing searches is completely different to Kayak, who load the results as they're returned from each supplier; Bing waits for all results to return then shows them.

    Thomson's website allows you to filter the results using a sidebar on the left, and Thomas Cook's website saves previous searches - perhaps Kayak should sue them too?

    This is a non-story.

  62. James Pickett
    Linux

    Biter bit

    Can't say I've an awful lot of sympathy for MS, a company that successfully persuaded a court that Lindows could be mistaken for Windows because of the name.

    Oh, that's why it's dark in here...

  63. Gareth.
    Gates Horns

    Screenshot

    Right, some of you twats obvisouly just looked at the homepage of each site and decided to form your judgement on that. If you're basing your decision on just the homepage, then the similarities are slight.

    What you should have done, however, is to perform a search and then look at the results page. Here you'll see the similarities are much more prominent.

    As that was obviously too hard for you (supposed IT professionals) to do, I've done it for you and uploaded a screenshot to one of the few imagehosting sites that's not blocked at my place of work...

    http://www.hostanyimage.com/files/v58edj83g07e64y0ruhz.jpg

    Now do you see why Kayak are so pissed off? It's not just the same orange-coloured button on a white background any more, is it, you dumb fucks?

    ps - Hats off to Kayak for not assuming I'm gonna buy plane tickets in US dollars.... ffs, the whole world does not revolve around the United States of Dumbass America!

    pps - can you guess where I want to go on my hols...? ;-)

  64. Bob 41
    FAIL

    Massive difference

    Kayak actually manages to work out that I live in Germany and provides the website in German.

    Microsoft assume that color is a valid word to 6+ billion people...

    As usual MS product = flashy rubbish + ! content

  65. Neil Kay
    WTF?

    [Insert title here]

    The similarities ended when Kayak actually found some decent results and Bing said there were no flights for my specified data range and destination.

  66. OFI
    Black Helicopters

    @ Gareth with Screenshot

    LOL

    Yea that is a bit too similar to just be coincidence..

    They could have at least changed some of the colours and redesign the sliders!

  67. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
    Troll

    Almost identical but...

    Kayak works, whereas Bing doesn't. (more specifically, it uses some kind of dodgy redirection hack and is -rightfully- blocked by my firewall.)

    Other than that, when I bypass the firewall, the sites seem to work in exactly the same way*, the layout is identical, some clever and rather unique features have been lifted, ...

    Obvious plagiarism. The only difference is the rather more intrusive Bing banner.

    As for the innards, it doesn't look like MS has been lifting code from Kayak, they just reverse-engineered it.

    *Someone particularly clueless suggested that Bing shows the results only after the search has been completed. It's wrong.

  68. JC 2
    FAIL

    What's the fuss?

    MS does this all the time, aren't we numb to it by now?

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