Microsoft has eliminated the waiting list for its upgraded Bing search engine, allowing anyone with a Microsoft account to use it. The new Bing was revealed in February, featuring a chatbot smartened up with the GPT-4 artificial intelligence model from OpenAI, which is similar to the startup’s viral ChatGPT bot. Microsoft is aiming to become a more formidable challenger to Google in search advertising. With its appearance in late November, ChatGPT has sparked a wave of interest in generative AI technologies that create text, images, and other content in response to human input.
Microsoft provides cloud services for ChatGPT and offers GPT-4 to businesses looking to draw on generative AI. The company has also announced plans to incorporate the AI model into its Microsoft 365 productivity software and bring out a chatbot for security practitioners, among other products. Google is working to add generative AI to its search engine, and it has a language model rivaling GPT-4 that developers have begun using.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Bing had crossed 100 million daily active users last week. However, while Bing has taken a share of consumer web searches, it has not won a share of search revenue in the nearly three months since Microsoft introduced the new version. At its peak, Bing hit #4 on the US iOS App download rank in early February, and its total app download volume has since increased by 4x, but momentum declined throughout March and April.
Microsoft is adding more capabilities to Bing in addition to broadening access. The company is adding a way to get back to previous chat conversations, which ChatGPT has offered for months, and will provide a way to export chats to Microsoft Word documents. It will also start showing images and other media in chat messages when appropriate. Over time, Bing will add integrations to third-party services such as OpenTable and Wolfram Alpha, enabling people to view and take action on current information when talking with the chatbot.
People still have to go through Microsoft’s Edge web browser on PCs or the Bing app on mobile devices to use the new Bing, including its chatbot. Microsoft is updating Edge so that when people open a result that appears during a Bing chat, the chat will move to a sidebar in Edge to keep the conversation going.
Microsoft is also looking to provide more details on how developers can build for the Bing chatbot at its Microsoft Build developer conference, starting on May 23. Google has yet to allow people to use the Bing chatbot from its dominant Chrome browser. “We’re still early in the journey and were still learning,” said Divya Kumar, global head of marketing for search and AI at Microsoft.
Microsoft’s aim is to gain every percentage point of share it can in the highly profitable search category. For every percentage point of share it gains, its revenue will increase by $2 billion. With the increased capabilities of the new Bing, it hopes to make gains in search revenue and become a stronger challenger to Google.