I tried Bing's AI chatbot, and it solved my biggest problems with ChatGPT

I was granted early access to the Microsoft Bing version of ChatGPT, and my experience left me pleasantly surprised. Here are all the details about my first look at the chatbot.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Bing and Open AI's logos
NurPhoto/Getty Images

ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, and since its launch, I've been interacting with the chatbot closely. 

Although I have been impressed with the AI's advanced skills and its human-like conversation capabilities, I have had a couple of recurring issues. After getting early access to the updated version of Microsoft's new Bing chatbot, which is powered by the same tech behind ChatGPT, I think this tool might be the answer to all of my ChatGPT prayers. 

OpenAI's ChatGPT has proven to be proficient in writing stories, essays, emails, lists, code, songs, and more. 

It even has some features that could help you become more productive in everyday life. However, the tool falls short if you're interested in learning about current events and news -- and that's a big problem. 

Also: 6 things ChatGPT can't do (and another 20 it refuses to do)

ChatGPT only draws on information up to 2021, meaning that it won't have any answer for queries that relate to content created after this date. If you are going to use a chatbot to explain concepts to you in a human way, wouldn't you want it to have expertise on subjects pertaining to the present day?

That lack of information isn't the only problem with ChatGPT. Even if you ask the chatbot a question related to events and facts it has been trained on, it will generate an answer without giving you its source of information. As a journalist, if I am going to look up something, I want to know that I can trust the source I am getting it from. 

With ChatGPT, we have little way of knowing where the information has come from and how it has been processed by algorithms to answer queries. There are plenty of examples of chatbots providing incorrect information or simply making things up to fill the gaps. Microsoft's Bing chatbot addresses these problems. 

The tech giant unveiled the Bing chatbot in February and said it would run on a next-generation OpenAI large language model customized specifically for search. Right now, the new Bing is only available to a select few, with multiple millions of people on Microsoft's waitlist. ZDNET was granted early access. 

Also: ChatGPT lies about scientific results, needs open-source alternatives, say researchers

Because Microsoft always find a way to plug its own products, I had to download Microsoft Edge to my desktop to access the new Bing. Once I'd done that, all I then had to do was click on a chat tab on the browser's homepage, which led me to a page that looks almost identical to the format used by ChatGPT -- just with different colors. 

Bing ChatGPT homepage screenshot
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Then, just like with ChatGPT, you can start chatting away. My very first prompt was, "What can I use Bing's ChatGPT for?" The first major difference I noticed was that Bing's chatbot includes sources for every answer it gives you, with footnotes that link back to the source. 

Bing ChatGPT screenshot
Image: Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Then I was curious if it could one-up ChatGPT and give me answers on current events. I asked the chatbot if it could tell me who won the World Cup and who the president of the US was. Both times, it gave me accurate answers and included sources. When you ask ChatGPT about the 2022 World Cup winner, it can't give you an answer saying it does not have information "from the future". 

If you ask ChatGPT about the current president of the US, it only assumes it is Joe Biden because he was already president in 2021 but prefaces that answer with the fact that it does not have access to current information. By Bing's chatbot being able to answer these two questions accurately and with sources, it showcased how it could overcome my biggest qualms with ChatGPT. 

Current events questions with Bing ChatGPT
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Then I was curious to see if it had the same technical abilities as ChatGPT, so I asked it to write me a bedtime story and an email. Surpassing the capabilities of your standard search engine, the new Bing came through. 

Bing ChatGPT writing an email
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

To keep the test going, I wanted to see if the chatbot was capable of providing context to current events. After looking at the day's top stories, I inputted, "I saw on the news that the President is going to hold a conference today. What is he talking about?" The answer wasn't what I expected. 

Bing ChatGPT answering prompt about the president
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

I was not referring to the president of CSX in my prompt, but my lack of clarity caused the chatbot to produce an answer that I wasn't looking for. The response was the perfect example of how chatbots still cannot match humans' conversational skills -- most people engaged in conversation with me would rightfully assume I was referring to the US president. 

Still, I was pleasantly surprised at how the links to the chatbot's sources helped me quickly figure out what went wrong and how I could rephrase my question to get a better answer. Once I reworded my question, I got the exact answer I was looking for, complete with sources and news snippets. 

News source of President Biden speaking on Bing ChatGPT
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Lastly, I wanted to see if the Bing chatbot is capable of making fun, custom suggestions, like ChatGPT can. I asked the chatbot what low-calorie snacks I should bring to the movie theater (big Marvel fan), and the response was succinct and super helpful. 

Bing ChatGPT's movie theater snacks conversation
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

In my experience, Bing's version of ChatGPT is a pleasure to use. Its ability to connect to the internet makes it much more useful for everyday queries. The sources make it much more trustworthy and eliminate room for misunderstandings or errors. 

However, let's be clear that the technology's not perfect -- it's been making headlines for some unusual behaviors. ChatGPT, Bing, Google's Bard, and other chatbots powered on large language models are new tools that leave plenty of room for improvement. However, my first impression of the new Bing chatbot is positive. 

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