Bing for a day: my fruitless attempt to avoid using a Google product


It is possible I've visited Starbucks more since its tax affairs became news, but those who have boycotted the chain (which has now agreed to review its practices because of "consumer pressure", the Treasury said today) need not look far for a caffeine fix. Is there really much to separate, say, a Starbucks latte and one from the Costa over the road?

What about Google, whose accounts face similar scrutiny? I'm addicted to the site and all its sons. Sad as it is to say, I couldn't do my job without them. But for one afternoon, I've agreed to walk past Google's door and cross a digital street to a new life.

First, my email, or Gmail, as it's been since I ditched Hotmail. I log back into my Windows Live account for the first time in years to find a message from a man who wants "urgent assistance in transferring $11.3m immediately to your private account" but little to inspire a return.

I'm a slave to Google Maps (I'm still refusing an iPhone software update simply to avoid Apple's mapping service) and ridicule my deskmate for her 1990s-era reliance on Streetmap. Sometimes she even prints out a map. (Imagine!) I do the same to locate a concert I'm going to tonight. I guess, if I don't lose it, I won't get lost, but it takes at least, what, three minutes longer? Time is money, people.

I've even cranked Microsoft Word into life to write this. The words somehow look nicer than on Google Drive, but being untethered from the cloud (I can access Google Docs on any device) makes me feel dizzy.

I can't find a way to search the web on my phone without Google, but on my work PC there is of course Bing or even Jeeves, if he's still around. I Bing, as they don't say, "how to cope without Google", but get nothing. Otherwise, however, Bing looks a lot like Google but seems to organise results less logically.

It's only late into my experiment that I realise I've failed to see the Google wood for the non-Google trees; I've performed most of my alternative functions on a thing called Google Chrome without realising. Switch to Explorer? I conclude, lazily and without much regard for principle, that Google would have to commit quite some evil for me to walk.