Microsoft to add AI features to Bing and Edge in growing tech rivalry

Renata Geraldo, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Microsoft will add artificial intelligence-powered features, including chat, to its search engine, Bing, and its browser Edge, the software giant announced at a day-long event at its Redmond campus on Tuesday. The move signals the importance tech companies have recently placed on AI.

"It's a new day in search, it's a new paradigm for search, rapid innovation is going to come," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the event.

The new features are powered by Microsoft's cloud computing platform, Azure, and OpenAI, a San Francisco-based startup that makes ChatGPT and other tools that write text and generate images through an AI engine. In January, Microsoft announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, which is the third stage of a four-year partnership with the startup that began with a $1 billion investment.

With this technology, Bing will have a summary of search results in bullet points with annotations that track back to the original sources of information. The AI-powered engine is still in preview mode, currently allowed only to a few users and reporters. Users can join a waitlist to use the engine as it continues to develop and roll out in the next few weeks.

When doing a search, users will have access to a chat function similar to ChatGPT, though it is a proprietary engine. Users can ask questions and get answers from different sources of information on the internet, summarized in bullet points. From there, the chat can go as far as creating an email, LinkedIn post or travel itinerary if prompted by the user.

Edge will also provide people with the same summary version, for example, when comparing earnings statements from two different companies or products from different brands.


People will have access to the ChatGPT-esque chat function when using Edge, although Microsoft's version is "much more powerful," Microsoft vice president and chief marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi said.

The new Bing takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and is even faster, more accurate and more capable, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. But Mehdi also said the engine is still being tested, so user feedback on the engine is helpful.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said the AI models in Bing and Edge are the most advanced, and that the use of the technology will "improve productivity and day-to-day quality of life."

Bing has more than 10 million queries a day, Mehdi said. But the user experience is the same as 20 years ago and about half Bing users don't get the answers they were looking for when doing searches, Mehdi said.


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