Microsoft's Bing search engine has long been a punch line in the tech industry, an also-ran that never came close to challenging Google's dominant position.
But Microsoft could still have the last laugh, since its service has helped lay the groundwork for its burgeoning artificial intelligence effort. That AI effort could help keep Microsoft competitive as it builds out its post-PC future.
Bing probably never stood a chance at surpassing Google, but its 2nd-place spot is worth more than the advertising dollars it pulls in with every click. Billions of searches have provided Microsoft with a massive repository of everyday questions people are asking about their health, the weather, store hours or directions.
That data helps power AI systems, which look for patterns in text, images and speech.