Microsoft’s new Bing and Edge hands-on: Surprisingly well-integrated AI

 

The age of generative AI is upon us, and this week alone Google and Microsoft made major announcements around their respective products for the masses. While Google unveiled an “experimental conversational AI service” called Bard yesterday, Microsoft had a fuller slate of news to share at its event in Redmond, WA today. Through a partnership with ChatGPT maker OpenAI, Microsoft is adding more advanced AI conversation models to power updates to Bing and Edge

The company’s keynote today happened at breakneck pace, with demos whizzing by so quickly there was barely enough time to make sense of the updates. Thankfully, I was able to briefly check out a full demo here with Dena Saunders from Bing Engineering. It was nice to see everything at a more comprehensible pace, but it was unfortunately restricted to a set of scripted examples. I’ll be getting access to the preview through my own whitelisted accounts in a bit so I will be updating this post with my personal impressions, but for now, I can break down at least what the updates look like on a demo computer.

In general, there are four new areas of change coming to Bing (and we’ll get to Edge later): Search, Answers, Chat and Create. The first update is the new search box. Instead of your typical long, one-line bar, there is now a box more similar to those on Twitter or Facebook that prompts you to ask Bing anything. The character limit is now 1,000. The idea is to make the process of looking for answers something more conversational — similar to Google’s approach for years now. 

When you submit your query, results are now displayed a bit differently. On the left is a column with your typical “answers” just like how you see it on Bing now. On the right, however, is a box that explains how the system found those answers. I initially thought this was similar to what Google does in its “About this search” panels, but I was wrong. This box is a home for the AI and fills up with text that appears in real time, complete with animation and a “Stop responding” button in case you don’t have the patience to see the AI’s explanation. 

The third and fourth parts are the more interesting updates. Chat, for example, is a new way you can get solutions to the problems you’re looking to solve. You can access the Chat page from the Bing results page by tapping the Chat button above the answers or by scrolling up (swiping down on touchscreens). 

This story is developing, please refresh for updates.

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