Microsoft has announced that it is eliminating the waitlist to use the new version of Bing that includes an AI chat function, which was previously only available to a few users.
Now, all you need is a Microsoft account to use Bing and its Chat function, which is powered by GPT-4, OpenAI’s most advanced large language model (LLM).
Along with the elimination of the waitlist, Microsoft has announced a raft of new features and improvements, with users now able to directly export and share their conversations with Bing Chat on social media.
Bing Chat Now Open to All With Microsoft Accounts
Microsoft announced this week that they would be moving the new version of Bing from its Limited Preview phase to Open Preview. This means that users will no longer have to join a long waitlist to use the new search function, which has been the case for the last three months.
Microsoft also revealed that the search experience would transition from “single-use chat/search sessions” to “multi-session productivity experiences”.
Chat history you create within Bing will be saved rather than discarded, so it can be referenced later down the line to enrich and personalize conversations.
Additionally, the tech giant explained that the company would be “opening up platform capabilities so developers and third parties can build on top of Bing to help people take action on their queries and complete tasks”, re-enforcing the idea that Microsoft's AI technology is there for businesses to innovate with.
Microsoft Bing’s Diversified Responses
Perhaps most excitingly, Microsoft also revealed that Bing would be changing from a text-only chat function to a more vibrant, visual search experience.
Now, Bing will answer you with video, charts, graphs, and other forms of media, rather than a plain text response. This has been aided greatly by the recent integration of Bing Image Creator – which is now available in over 100 languages – within Bing Chat.
On top of this, with “visual search in chat”, as Microsoft puts it, you’ll also be able to upload images and use Bing to crawl the internet for related content.
Can Bing Challenge Google?
In a statement released by Microsoft yesterday, the company revealed that users had initiated over half a billion chats with Bing during the last 90 days.
The company also said that “Bing has grown to exceed 100 million daily active users and daily installs of the Bing mobile app have increased fourfold since launch.”
It will take a lot to knock Google off its perch, considering it currently holds a 93% share of the search engine market. Even as Bing soars to new heights, in comparison to the world's most popular search engine, it’s still a relatively small fry.
What’s more, Google is making its own foray into the world of AI with Bard, and is reports suggest the company is soon hoping to incorporate its own language model into Google Search in the same way Microsoft has with Bing Chat and GPT-4.
For Microsoft, however, any gains made in this area will be lucrative – the company estimates that every percentage point of search share they claw back generates around $2 billion in revenue.
A New Dawn for Search: Change Ahead
The release of ChatGPT, Bing Chat, and other similar tools already feels like it is fundamentally changing “Search” – which Microsoft dubs “the largest category of software in the world” – for good.
For millions of people, this technology is rapidly becoming a more efficient, “go-to” way to source information. This has led some digital marketers to claim that AI tools like Bing Chat and Co. could destroy SEO, paid search, digital advertising, and other stalwarts of the search experience as we know it.
The AI chatbot explosion is simply the latest instance of a wider, gradual phenomenon: wholesale diversification of our collective information-sourcing processes, as well as the range of tools we have at our disposal.
In the world of search, seismic change is not uncommon. Before ChatGPT even came along, people were already starting to use social media sites like TikTok as de facto search engines, with Gen Z particularly keen on sourcing their information from image and video-led platforms. We expect these tools, be they chatbots or social media apps, to provide us with significantly richer, more vibrant, and more accurate answers than ever before.
Importantly, however, traditional “Search” isn’t going to be swallowed up by social media and chatbots. It still has a multiplicity of use cases that cannot, at present, be catered to by other options. Plus, Google will iterate further to compete in what will become a search-based arms race, as it vies for the attention of the world’s internet users, whose collective gaze is wandering more so than ever before.
We’re already seeing chatbots like Bard cite their sources on one side of the table, and search engines incorporate AI into their user journey on the other. There are also chatbots like YouChat, which serves search results and AI summaries for you to choose from. The point is, there’s a lot of space in between a chatbot and a search engine, and it’s waiting to be occupied by a diverse ecosystem of tools.
Tempting as it may be to postulate as such, traditional methods of sourcing information are certainly not dead – in fact, they're not even dying. But we are definitely witnessing a new dawn in how we source information as a global civilization – and it's about to get infinitely more eclectic.