Every query that Bing successfully answers is one that Google is not getting; it would be too costly to submit the same query on Bing, Yahoo and Google, because ultimately the results are nearly identical in quality. Hence, the Internet Search market is essentially zero-sum.
In a zero-sum game, in order to win, your opponent must lose. How can Bing gain the upper hand? By leveraging the incredible reach of its parent company: The Windows OS is used by almost 95% of the world. (More if you count pirated copies in China) So how can Windows help Bing take down Google?
By answering one of the most requested features: Ad block. Ad block was one of the reasons I did not immediately switch to Chrome when it came out, even though Firefox was as slow as a snail. Only after Ad block for Chrome was released did I make the switch. If Windows integrates an ad block service (Similar to what Symantec personal firewalls do) that actually strips out ad-related HTML code (the iframes, for instance) as it passes through the firewall, Microsoft can give Google a major kick in its enormous Achilles’ heel: its near-complete dependence on advertising revenue.
Google gets 3% of its revenue from non-advertising sources (Licensing, etc). If Microsoft can basically eliminate 97% of Google’s revenue from 95% of the world, Google would lose 92% of its total revenue of $22b, for a total delta of $20.2b. It would be unsurprising if the costs remained around the same in the short run (until they cut, cut, cut!), turning their $4.2b income into $16b loss.
Oh wow! Imagine that. As powerful as Google seems, it can’t sustain $16b annual losses. At that point, it will either give up to Bing (sell itself), split into a search and non-search company, or fight till the end. Recall the mathematics of Adblock Plus–If you thought that the amount of restraint Firefox has with regards to protecting Google’s interests is significant, just imagine that at a magnitude larger scale, but without the same restraint.
Of course, none of this will likely happen due to antitrust reasons. Although Google can advertise Chrome on its home page, Safari can exclude Bing, and Firefox can choose not to list Bing even in its “Get more search engines” link, somehow Microsoft will always be punished for “bundling”–another name for leveraging an existing division to give a newer division a competitive advantage.
But, given Microsoft’s new security initiative (It’s developing its own free anti-virus suite), I can always hope that they’ll have universal ad-block! Nobody ever brought up ad block as an antitrust concern. The FTC never complained about the ubiquity of popup-blockers; certainly blocking display ads is not much different.