Microsoft has revealed it intends to begin charging for using the Bing Search API. Developers are already voicing their discontent. So will Microsoft change its plans?
Just hours after Amazon announced developers will be able to pay to use Amazon’s cloud based search technology, Microsoft has announced that it too is to begin charging for using its search facility.
Bing Search has been free until now, and will remain so for a while yet as Microsoft says the transition to a paid model will take several months to complete.
The charge will be lower than Amazon, starting at around $40 a month for up to 20,000 queries per month. The API will be sold through the Windows Azure Marketplace, where there’s a new version of the API that can be downloaded free of charge for the moment.
Google already charges for using its search API after you have used up 100 free queries per-day. After that the charge is $5 per 1000 queries up to 10,000 per day.
So Bing works out cheaper for over 8000 queries.
A "separate transition process" is envisaged for high volume users, developers using approximately 3 to 4 million queries and above, details of which will be provided shortly.
In a blog post about the change, the Bing Team says moving to a paid model will mean developers
“will have access to fresher results, improved relevancy, and more opportunities to monetize their usage of the Search API.”
The change has prompted many negative comments from current users of the API, with one developer hypothesising that the decision is actually because Microsoft wants to reduce the Bing API workload, and suggesting that if Microsoft wants to close the service, they should say so directly.
A surprising number of developers have commented on their use of the Bing API for non-profit applications, asking Microsoft for a rethink, and to be fair to the Bing team, they quickly responded saying:
“We are absolutely thinking about ways to enable smaller scale applications to keep experimenting with the API. Please stay tuned for more details over the next several weeks.”
Although the timing puts the move alongside Amazon's move into paid search, it has to be noted that Amazon's search is a custom search restricted to data that the customer specifies. The Bing search engine on the other hand is a full web search engine, even though it can be customized to search specific sites.