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9/15/2009
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Google Tops Bing, Yahoo In Bug Battle

A group of 1,100 software testers has rated Google the best search engine in terms of accuracy, speed, and relevance.

Google took first place in every category of uTest's "Battle of the Search Engines" while Bing had the most reported bugs.

The search engine survey was conducted during a week-long testing period in August and is based on the opinions of 1,100 software usability testers from more than 50 countries.

The testers tried out four search engines: Bing, Google, Caffeine -- Google's next-generation search experiment -- and Yahoo.

Ninety percent of the testers said Google was their favorite search engine after testing. And Google placed first in the categories for highest overall accuracy, best real-time relevance, and fastest page load speed.

Seventy-one percent of the participating testers said search result accuracy represents the most important factor when choosing a search engine.

In terms of search result accuracy, 90% of testers rated Google "excellent" or "good," followed by Caffeine (83%), Yahoo (53%), and Bing (42%).

But the news isn't all bad as far as Bing is concerned. Ten percent said that they planned to make Bing their default search engine. And more than 30% said that Bing had surprised them favorably.

It should also be said that the testers may have come to the test with preconceptions or an existing favorite search engine. The survey results might differ with respondents who had no prior computer experience.

During the survey, the testers identified more than 600 bugs.

Bing had 321 of these, more than half of the total found. Google had 130 bugs, less than a quarter of those found.

uTest, however, uses a definition of "a bug" that differs from the definition used by most developers: a programming error.

"Testers classify bugs as technical, functional, or graphic user interface-related," a company spokesperson explained via e-mail. "A user-interface bug might simply be a link that was supposed to be one color but came out another. A functional bug might be an unexpected behavior, such as being sent to the wrong page. A technical bug would be a more serious problem like a browser crash."

In other words, Bing could be getting dinged for broken links, which say more about the freshness of Microsoft's search index than about the quality of the code running its search engine.

The "bugs" found are not believed to be associated with any security vulnerability. However, sending Internet users to an unexpected Web page represents behavior that could be exploited by cyber criminals.

The testers liked Yahoo and praised its real-time news searches and search options, but suggested that it fell short when it came to advanced searches and that its index contained a lot of out of date information.

Caffeine received high marks for speed. But testers saw a lot of inconsistencies and broken links, as might be expected from an experimental release.


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