Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


How to use Copilot (formerly called Bing Chat)

Bing is no longer the AI-powered copilot for the web, Copilot is.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Microsoft Copilot logo
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Since OpenAI launched ChatGPT last fall, Microsoft has become one of the company's biggest investors. However, instead of investing in the popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Microsoft leveraged these investments into superpowering its own search engine, Bing, with generative AI. Now, the tech giant has given its AI-powered Bing a new name and a new site, Copilot. 

Also: Thanks to my 5 favorite AI tools, I'm working smarter now

Instead of being a runner-up search engine to the more popular Google, Bing is now powering a new version of Microsoft Copilot -- though the option to use the traditional Bing search format remains. Users can go to Copilot and ask questions, upload images, and request AI-generated images, just like they can with ChatGPT.

Often referred to as "the new Bing" or "Bing Chat," the new Copilot differs greatly from its more popular competitor, ChatGPT. We'll explore how to use Copilot and the different ways you can access it below. 

How to use Microsoft Copilot

New Copilot
Screenshot by Maria Diaz/ZDNET

What you'll need: Getting started with Copilot requires an account to access the chat feature. Users can use a Microsoft account or an Entra ID. For the time being, Copilot is only available for Microsoft Edge and Chrome browsers, on Windows and Mac OS. 

1. Log in to the new Copilot website

Open the new Copilot website and log in. Just go Copilot.Microsoft.com and click on Sign in. Keep in mind that you need a Microsoft account or Entra ID to log in and to do so on Chrome or Edge in either Windows or MacOS.

A Microsoft account could be an outlook.com or hotmail.com email address and password or the login information you use for Microsoft services, such as Office, OneDrive, or Xbox. 

Also: Microsoft Teams AI-powered makeover promises to clean up your messy office

You can create a Microsoft account using any email address, Gmail and Yahoo! included.

Log in to Microsoft

The login page still says Bing, but it's sure to change over the next few days.

Screenshot by Maria Diaz/ZDNET

2. Start using Microsoft Copilot

Once you log in, you can start asking Microsoft Copilot your questions. Enter your prompts into the text area at the bottom of the screen and submit them to Copilot. 

Microsoft Copilot
Screenshot by Maria Diaz/ZDNET

3. Learn how the new Microsoft Copilot works

The Microsoft Copilot bot differs slightly from ChatGPT, the most popular AI chatbot. While you enter prompts in the conversations in a similar way, the format of the answers, the conversational style, and the user interface are all different. 

Also: Six skills you need to become an AI prompt engineer

Here's a breakdown to help you get to know the new Microsoft Copilot window:

  • Text area: The bottom of the screen has a text area where you can enter your prompts and questions for Copilot.
  • Add an image: Microsoft lets users upload a photo for Copilot to process using AI, much like Google Lens and GPT-4. Clicking on this button lets you add an image.
  • Microphone: If you'd rather use your device's microphone instead of your keyboard to give Copilot your prompts, you can click on the microphone in the text area to talk to the AI chatbot.
  • New topic: When you click on New topic, Copilot will delete the previous conversation and prompt you to move on to a new one. 
  • Sources: Copilot performs as a conversational AI-powered search engine, and though it does not give you answers in a list format as a search engine would, it does gather most of its responses from the web, thanks to Bing. When you get a reply to a prompt, Copilot will list any sources and links below the message bubble.
  • Suggested follow-up questions: After you get a response from Microsoft Copilot, it will generate suggestions for different follow-up questions that you can use. For example, if you ask Copilot, "What color is the sky?", it may suggest the follow-up questions, "Is the sky blue on other planets?", or "How does pollution affect the color of the sky?"
  • Conversation style: Microsoft Copilot is programmed to provide a more human-like answer to a query than a search engine, so it offers three formats for responses -- more creative, more balanced, and more precise. Each one of these formats is self-descriptive: choosing "more creative" will give you answers that are original and imaginative, and it can also generate images; "more balanced" is similar in tone to ChatGPT, an informative and friendly chat with a human-like answer; and "more precise" will render concise and straightforward responses.
  • Prompt counter: When Copilot responds to a query within a conversation, you'll see a number that helps you keep count of how many responses you've received. There's a limit of 30 replies per conversation.
  • Like, dislike, copy, and export buttons: When scanning the screen, you'll likely notice these buttons under each reply from Microsoft Copilot. 


What can Microsoft Copilot do?

Like ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot can generate text conversationally, compose essays, create letters, summarize content, write code, and answer complex questions. But unlike the free version of ChatGPT, Copilot has internet access, allowing it to provide up-to-date responses on current events. 

The free version of ChatGPT is only trained on data up to the year 2021, so it cannot provide answers related to more recent events and developments. This means that Copilot can give you answers about events that happened yesterday, whereas ChatGPT wouldn't know about something that happened last year -- unless you had a ChatGPT Plus subscription.

Also: 7 advanced ChatGPT prompt-writing tips you need to know

Aside from internet access, Copilot can also use AI to generate images within the chat window. I tested this feature and it's still buggy when used in the redesigned chat window. Typically, all you have to do is ask it to create an image and describe what features you'd like the photo to have, and it'll generate an image right away. It can also process images you upload in the chat to tell you information about them, like identifying plant species. 

How can I access Microsoft Copilot?

The Microsoft Copilot AI chatbot is accessible through the Copilot.Microsoft.com website on the Chrome and Edge browsers in Windows or MacOS. Users need a Microsoft account or Entra ID to log in.

Can you use the new Microsoft Copilot on mobile?

The Microsoft Copilot chatbot is still accessible through the Bing mobile app and you can start a conversation on web and scan a QR code to continue it on the mobile app. 

Also: Want quick access to Bing Chat on your phone? Add this handy widget

This app provides a straight line to the Copilot chatbot, with the benefits of not having to access a website when you want to use it and the ability to add widgets to your phone's home screen.

Does Microsoft Copilot use ChatGPT?

Copilot does not use ChatGPT, but it does use GPT-4 to have conversations with its users. The new Copilot is the only way to use GPT-4 for free at this time, and Microsoft claims the integration with the latest language model makes Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) more powerful and accurate than ChatGPT. 

The GPT-3.5 version of OpenAI's language model powers ChatGPT. When GPT-4 became widely available through an updated version of ChatGPT, it was through OpenAI's subscription service, ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20 monthly.

Also: How (and why) to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus

GPT-4, OpenAI's latest large language model, is available through a monthly subscription or Microsoft Copilot. The latter uses GPT-4 and performs more like an AI-powered search engine in a conversational format than ChatGPT.

Does Microsoft Copilot give wrong answers?

Just like ChatGPT and other large language models, the new Copilot is prone to giving out misinformation. Most of the output Copilot offers as answers are drawn from online sources, and we know we can't believe everything we read online. 

Similarly, the Copilot chatbot can generate nonsensical answers unrelated to the original question, also known as hallucinations. It's important to take precautions when having conversations with AI chatbots, like never sharing your personal and private information and never relying on it for medical or life-threatening information.

Is Microsoft Copilot available now?

The Bing Chat platform was only available on a waitlist basis since its launch earlier this year. Microsoft granted widespread access to all Microsoft Edge users some time ago, with or without a valid account. 

Also: 'The world is running out of developers', says Salesforce exec

Microsoft Copilot is available on a Preview basis, so users can try it now.

How is Microsoft Copilot different from a search engine?

Compared to a search engine, the biggest difference between Copilot and other AI chatbots is the conversational tone in rendering search results, thanks to the large language model operating behind the scenes. Intelligently formatting search results into an answer to a specific question makes it easier for anyone looking to find something online. 

Also: Bard vs. ChatGPT: Can Bard help you code?

Beyond search capabilities that the standard Bing search engine already has, Copilot is a full-fledged AI chatbot and can do many things similar tools can, such as ChatGPT. Both Copilot and ChatGPT, for example, can generate text, such as an essay or a poem, write code, or ask complex questions and hold a conversation with follow-up questions. 

Is there a Bing Image Creator?

Microsoft also debuted Bing Image Creator as part of its generative AI tools. It's accessible through Microsoft Copilot or on its own by going to Bing.com/Create.

Also: How to use Bing Image Creator (and why it's better than DALL-E 2)

Microsoft is using DALL-E, an artificially intelligent image generator from OpenAI. This bot is available as a standalone tool or within Copilot, as users can give Copilot a prompt to create images within an existing chat instead of going to a separate website. 

Is Microsoft Copilot free?

The Copilot chatbot is not only completely free but also the best way to preview GPT-4 for free right now. You can use the Copilot chatbot to ask questions, get help with a problem, or seek inspiration, but you are limited to 30 queries per interaction. 

Is there a waitlist for the new Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot does not have a waitlist, users can access it now, provided they meet the browser and account requirements detailed above. 

Editorial standards