Microsoft unveils Edge and Bing AI features to take on Google

Microsoft Bing AI chat

Bringing the power of OpenAI’s ChatGPT to Microsoft’s oft-maligned search and web browser, AI-powered Bing and Edge throw down the gauntlet to Google in the next battle of the great search wars.

Google has dominated online search since the late 1990s, when its algorithms gave us a smarter way to find things online. Today, the tech giant has a 92 per cent share of the global search engine market and is the most-visited website in the world. 

Rival search engines like Microsoft’s Bing have struggled to make any headway against Google’s search dominance. To help turn things around, Microsoft recently invested US$14 billion in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT – an advanced AI-powered language model which has the world’s knowledge at its fingertips.

With a strong grasp of both content and context, ChatGPT creates human-like responses and is good at explaining complex concepts. It can also do a convincing job of writing anything from blog posts and school reports to computer code.

Now, Microsoft intends to build these AI smarts directly into its Bing search engine and Edge web browser. The new Bing runs on a next-generation OpenAI large language model that is actually more powerful than ChatGPT and customised specifically for search.

Search gets chatty thanks to Bing AI

AI-powered Bing and Edge will deliver more accurate search results, but the biggest change will be in the way it presents those results.

While Bing will still tell you the height of the Eiffel Tower and the opening hours of the Louvre, it will also do a better job of answering more complex, nuanced queries that are phrased more like a request for advice. The answers are explained in prose, rather than a collection of facts and links.

Bing AI Ikea example
One example Microsoft provided involved asking if Ikea furniture would fit into a car.

For example, ask Google “Where are the best tourist spots in Paris?” and it presents you with a list of top sites in Paris, a Knowledge Panel about Paris, and a list of similar questions that people ask Google. Below all this, you’ll see links to online articles about Paris tourist spots.

Meanwhile, ChatGPT basically writes you a custom article on the spot, explaining exactly what you want to know in plain English. Bing will provide similar results, even letting you kick off a conversation to ask further questions, just as if you were speaking to a person:

Paris, also known as the “City of Love,” is famous for its rich history, art, culture, and iconic landmarks, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Here are some of the most famous tourist spots in Paris that you should visit:

  1. Eiffel Tower – the most recognizable landmark of Paris, offering breathtaking views of the city from the top.
  2. Louvre Museum – the largest art museum in the world, home to the famous painting “Mona Lisa” among other masterpieces.
  3. Notre-Dame Cathedral – a historic cathedral known for its stunning Gothic architecture and intricate carvings.
  4. Sainte-Chapelle – a beautiful 13th-century Gothic chapel, famous for its stunning stained glass windows.
  5. The Champs-Élysées – a famous avenue lined with trees, cafes, theaters, and luxury shops.
  6. Musée d’Orsay – a museum located in an old train station, showcasing French art from the 1848 Revolution to 1914.
  7. Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur – a beautiful white basilica located on the highest point of the city, offering stunning views of Paris.
  8. Place des Vosges – one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, surrounded by elegant 17th-century townhouses.
  9. Montmartre – a historic hilltop neighborhood known for its artistic heritage and beautiful views of the city.

These are just a few of the many iconic tourist spots in Paris. The city is full of surprises and has something for everyone, from art lovers to foodies, so make sure to explore as much as you can!

When it comes to tasks like cooking, Bing can give you detailed instructions on how to substitute ingredients in a cake and ensure it still tastes great, without the need for you to scroll through multiple results looking for answers.

The writing is on the wall 

Just like ChatGPT, the new AI-powered Bing and Edge browser will also be able to write things for you.

For example, they can help you write an email, or create a five-day itinerary for a holiday to Hawaii, with links to book your travel and accommodations. Alternatively, you can use them to prep for a job interview or create a quiz for trivia night. The new Bing cites all its sources, so you’re able to see links to the web content it references.

You can also ask the Edge browser to help you compose content, such as a LinkedIn post, by giving it a few prompts to get you started. After that, you can ask it to help you update the tone, format and length of the post. Edge can understand the web page you’re on and adapts accordingly.

Edge report summary
Edge can even use AI to gleam main points from dense documents.

The new Bing is available today in a limited preview on desktop, with sample queries at Bing.com and sign up for the waitlist. Microsoft intends to scale the preview to millions in the coming weeks and a mobile experience will also be in preview soon.

Google fires back

Google isn’t taking this threat lying down, announcing its own experimental conversational AI service dubbed Bard. It has reportedly long been in the works and, like Microsoft, Google also aims to make it easier for people to get to the heart of what they’re looking for and get things done. However, it’s not off to an impressive start, making an embarrassing error and leading to Google’s parent company Alphabet losing market value to the tune of $144 billion.

As AI-generated imagery rose in popularity last year, Google showed off its Imagen text-to-image technology but stopped short of opening it up to public use. The company cited “potential risks of misuse” as a core reason.

For now, Google is opening up Bard to “trusted testers” ahead of making it more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.

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