Gears & Gadgets

Bing starts serving AMP pages as Google prepares to reduce its control

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Enlarge / Bing on a mobile device showing the AMP-powered carousel and an AMP story served from Bing’s cache.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has started showing AMP pages to mobile searchers in the US. Pages using the proprietary tech will now be prominently displayed in search listings on the mobile website. Previously, Microsoft made limited use of AMP in some of its mobile apps but didn’t use it on the Web.

AMP (“Accelerated Mobile Pages”) is a project spearheaded by Google to improve the performance and embeddability of mobile content. It imposes tight restrictions on the scripting that pages can use, and it performs special handling of embedded images and media. To do this, Google uses a number of proprietary extensions to HTML, and AMP content all gets cached. Google serves AMP pages from its own servers, Bing uses Microsoft’s servers, and Cloudflare also has an AMP caching service.

Though there is widespread acknowledgement that AMP is addressing real problems—the abundance of trackers, advertisements, and client-side scripts makes many webpages bandwidth-heavy and slow to load—many within the industry are unhappy at the proprietary, Google-controlled extensions, regarding them as anathema to the open Web.

Google uses AMP pages for its “Top Stories carousel” (the headlines and images that appear at the top of news-related search results). And with the changes this week, Bing now does the same. This prominent positioning creates a strong incentive for content producers to adopt the non-standard technology.

Google is making an effort to address these critics. Earlier in the year, the company offered a vague plan to offer the same AMP benefits to standard pages. And this week, the company said that it’s going to move to a new governance model for the AMP project.

Currently, AMP is governed by Google employee Malte Ubl. Ubl has the final say on how the project evolves and changes. The new model will be consensus based, with the single Tech Lead replaced by a Technical Steering Committee (TSC). The committee will have representatives from a range of companies, and the intent is that no one company will have more than one third of the seats. An Advisory Committee made of various industry representatives (publishers, commerce cites, open Web advocates, among others) will guide the TSC.

Google is also “exploring” creating a separate foundation to control AMP, a move that would further distance the technology from the company that created it.

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Tech – Ars Technica