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For years, Microsoft Bing has struggled to gain a foothold among popular search engines as Google, its main competitor, maintains control of the market. But Microsoft's recent deep dive into artificial intelligence (AI) is breathing new life into the internet search, with its AI-powered Bing Chat feature, now open for widespread use -- and it just keeps getting better and better.
Also: All the major Bing Chat and AI announcements from Microsoft Build 2023
Often referred to as "the new Bing" or "Bing ChatGPT", Bing Chat is very different from its more popular competitor. It uses GPT-4 and performs more like an AI-powered search engine in a conversational format, but that's just the beginning.
Unlike ChatGPT, Bing Chat boasts internet access, giving it the ability to provide more up-to-date responses. The free version of ChatGPT, on the other hand, is only trained on data up to the year 2021, so it cannot provide answers on current events.
GPT-4, which is OpenAI's latest large language model, is available with a monthly subscription to ChatGPT Plus -- or by using Bing Chat.
What you'll need: Getting started with the new Bing requires you to use Microsoft Edge. Microsoft used to require an account to access the chat feature, but now you can have shorter conversations without logging in.
Open the Microsoft Edge web browser to access Bing Chat. If you don't have Edge, you can download it for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It's also available on mobile for Android and iOS.
Once you've got Microsoft Edge open, go to Bing.com and you'll have a couple of options to access Bing Chat. You can either click on Chat at the top of the screen, click on the Bing logo on the sidebar to the right of the screen, or, if available, on Try it or Learn more right below the search bar.
Also: Today's AI boom will amplify social problems if we don't act now, says AI ethicist
When you access Microsoft Bing, you can choose whether to use the search or chat formats for your queries.
Bing Chat is always accessible from the Edge sidebar, no matter what website you're on.
You can still access the Bing AI chatbot if you're not logged in to a Microsoft account, you'll just be limited to only five responses from the bot per conversation. If you want to have longer conversations with up to 20 responses from Bing, you can log in to your Microsoft account.
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.
You can create a Microsoft account using any email address, Gmail and Yahoo! included.
From the search options below the search bar, click on Chat to access the chat tab for the new AI-powered Bing Chat.
If you accessed Bing Chat through the Microsoft Edge sidebar, proceed to step four.
Microsoft's AI-powered Bing Chat is a bit different from ChatGPT, the most popular AI chatbot at the moment. While you ask prompts in a similar fashion, the format of the answers, the conversational style, and the Bing AI interface are all very different.
Also: How I tricked ChatGPT into telling me lies
Here's a breakdown to help you get to know the new Bing Chat window:
At this point, you can use Bing Chat and begin writing your prompts and questions in the text area on the chat window.
Also: Microsoft launches bug bounty program for the new Bing
Then, hit enter to submit them.
The new AI-powered Bing Chat was only available on a waitlist basis since its launch earlier this year, but Microsoft has now granted widespread access to all Microsoft Edge users, with or without a valid account.
Also: What is the new Bing? Here's everything you need to know
The new Bing Chat is on an Open Preview, so users can try it by going to the Edge web browser.
Bing Chat is only available on Microsoft Edge at this time. There are certain third-party extensions to access the new Bing through Google Chrome, but none are officially backed by Microsoft yet.
There are a few ways to access Bing Chat quickly:
The biggest difference between Bing Chat and other AI chatbots, compared to a search engine, is the conversational tone in the rendering of 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 who is looking to find out something over the internet.
Also: ChatGPT vs Bing Chat: Which AI chatbot should you use?
Beyond search capabilities that the standard Bing search engine already has, Bing Chat is a fully-fledged AI chatbot and can do many of the things that similar tools can, such as ChatGPT. Both Bing 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.
Bing does not use ChatGPT, but it does use GPT-4 to create its answers. The new Bing is the only way to use GPT-4 for free at this time and Microsoft claims the integration with the latest language model makes Bing more powerful and accurate than ChatGPT.
Also: Microsoft just supercharged ChatGPT with Bing's AI-powered search
Many users prefer one or the other. In my experience, I've noticed Bing Chat can sometimes be a bit slow to respond and can miss some prompts, but that's typically remedied by asking a follow-up question such as, "Did you search for that?". However, I also believe the new version of Bing offers users more control over experience and a more intuitive UI.
Also: Microsoft embraces OpenAI's ChatGPT plugin standard
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 a month.
Microsoft recently debuted Bing Image Creator as part of its generative AI tools. It's accessible through Bing Chat, when it is used in the Creative conversation style, 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 is available as a tool for Microsoft Edge within Bing, as users are able to give Bing a prompt to create images within an existing chat, as opposed to going to a separate website.
Just like ChatGPT and other large language models, the new AI-powered Bing Chat is prone to giving out misinformation. Most of the output that new Bing offers as answers are drawn from online sources, and we know we can't believe everything we read on the internet. Similarly, when you use the new Bing in chat mode, it can generate nonsensical answers that are unrelated to the original question.
The new Bing is not only completely free, but it's also the best way to preview GPT-4 for free right now. You can use the Bing AI chatbot to ask questions, get help with a problem, or seek inspiration, but you are limited to 15 questions per interaction and 150 conversations a day.
Through a recent series of updates, Microsoft added chat history to Bing Chat. It's now accessible on the right-hand side of the chat window. If you're using Bing Chat with your Microsoft account, search history is saved in the account, depending on your settings, so previous prompts may be saved.
Microsoft recently announced that the new, AI-powered Bing is in Open Preview, so any user that signs in to their Microsoft account using Edge is granted access immediately. The waitlist for early access to this new version of Bing is open to everyone.
If you have the Edge browser on your mobile device, you can use the new AI-powered Bing search in chat mode, much like you would on your computer. There's also the option of skipping the Edge browser and downloading the Microsoft Bing app from your device's app store. This app provides a straight line to the Bing AI chatbot, with the benefit of not having to access a website when you want to use it.
Also: Microsoft adding more AI smarts to Windows 11 via Copilot and Dev Home
Both the Microsoft Bing app and the Edge browser support voice dictation on mobile, so you can ask your questions without even having to type them in.