When Microsoft launched Bing, there was good reason to be skeptical. After all, Microsoft’s previous efforts to compete in the search market hadn’t fared so well.

But Bing is different and with the help of a $100m marketing push, has seen steady growth. Granted, Bing’s growth in the search market has come at the expense of Yahoo, not Microsoft rival Google, but Microsoft isn’t letting up.

Yesterday, however, Bing decided to take a break as it suffered an outage lasting approximately 45 minutes. A short period of time in an absolute sense, but an agonizingly long time in the real-time world of Twitter, where news of the Bing outage spread fast and it didn’t take more than a few minutes before real-time bloggers went into a frenzy.

Not surprisingly, many were quick to comment that this outage was something Microsoft could ill afford. After all, Microsoft has managed to get consumers interested in Bing, quite a feat given the reputation Microsoft has with many consumers. Therefore, the last thing Microsoft needs is to remind everyone that Bing is a Microsoft product with the online equivalent of the blue screen of death: a message stating “”Oops…This isn’t the page you wanted!

According to a post by Satya Nadella of Microsoft, “The cause of the outage was a configuration change during some internal testing
that had unfortunate and unintended consequences
“. Microsoft is looking into the incident to figure out how similar incidents can be prevented in the future.

Of course, the real question here is whether or not Bing’s outage really says anything about Microsoft’s reliability. Google hasn’t been immune to its own problems (both with search and other services) and consumers for the most part haven’t blinked an eye. So why would it be different with Microsoft? It probably won’t, with one caveat: Microsoft can’t make a habit of this. An hour of downtime on a Thursday night will probably go unnoticed by just about everyone who isn’t on Twitter or refreshing Bing every five minutes. But if Microsoft isn’t careful and a Bing fail whale becomes a regular sight, I’m not so sure consumers will be as forgiving to Microsoft as they are to, say, Twitter.

Photo credit: goldberg via Flickr.