I wanted to try the new Bing with ChatGPT. Then, Microsoft went all Microsoft

Is this the best way to do things? Perhaps. Or perhaps not.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Microsoft Bing logo and OpenAI logo

I can almost touch it.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

This is Microsoft's moment.

At last it can stick it to companies that, once upon a time, laughed in its face.

Like Google, Apple, and, well, Nokia.

Also: One million people have joined the waitlist for Microsoft's AI-powered Bing

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has leaped on the latest tech wizardry -- or, perhaps, the latest wildly imperfect tech nonsense to enchant simple minds -- and brought it to Microsoft's red-headed stepchild, Bing.

Yes, new, improved Bing. Now with ChatGPT.

Naturally, Microsoft couldn't let everyone try it at once. It's entirely understandable. ChatGPT itself seems often overloaded.

I still wanted to see whether my paltry status as someone who gives Microsoft money to use Word, PowerPoint, and other highly revolutionary products actually mattered.

I rushed to Bing. Not a sentence I've ever written before, I think.

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other fun alternatives to try

This chatbox-like superior intelligence thing is, I feared, little more than than the latest tech industry windbaggery. You know, like self-driving cars and making the world a better place. Still, I was willing to be open. Open enough. OpenAI enough.

I wasn't sure whether I'd get any joy when I clicked on the chat button, so I was prepared for disappointment. And that's what I got.

"Chat mode is only available when you have access to the new Bing," said the message. I was enticed, however, to join the waitlist for Microsoft's new "AI-powered answer engine."

Join the waitlist page for Bing AI-powered answer engine

So exciting.

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

With barely suppressed glee, I aggressively pressed home my willingness to join the waitlist.

Surely, once I'd handed over my email address, Microsoft would say: "Yo, Chris. How's it going? Thank you for all the money you send us every month. We'll put you somewhere near the front of the line."

Instead, Microsoft went all Microsoft on me. You know, the one that you adored so infinitely back in happy days of pearly Gates.

For this was Microsoft's next little touch of prestidigitation.

"On the waitlist?" mused Microsoft. "Access the new Bing even faster."

But I haven't accessed the new Bing at all because I'm, you know, on the waitlist. 

Also: ChatGPT is 'not particularly innovative,' and 'nothing revolutionary', says Meta's chief AI scientist

Here it was, though -- surely -- the recognition I'd been waiting for. The next sentence, you see, read: "Get ahead in the line when you complete the following..."

Don't tell me, I have to enter how much I pay Microsoft every month? Oh, not quite.

Here was secret waitlist passage No. 1: "Set Microsoft defaults on your PC."

These were my instant feelings: "Dearest Microsoft, are you really trying to use the entrance of a supposedly entrancing new Bing to force me to make Microsoft my default everything?"

This was shortly followed by: "Dearest Microsoft, would you just take a run and jump?"

I had no evidence that making Microsoft my everything-default would speed me to the no-doubt monstrously superb new Bing. 

Yet there was Microsoft, again, grinning like a used car salesperson of the rather sniveling kind.

Oh, there was another option to supposedly garner the favor of the Bing bouncers. I could scan a QR code and download the Bing app.

Also: How to get started using ChatGPT

Trying to maintain a modicum of decorum, I succumbed. I opened the Bing app. Did it instantly send me ahead of those on the waitlist? Not as far as I could see.

It did, though, inform me that it could see I was on the waitlist.

Please absolve me of my occasional intolerance, but this felt just a tinge sordid. And on such a happy day.

I know you'll tell me one rarely gets something for nothing. I know you'll sigh and say, "Everyone does this."

But if you really are the company that once called Google "Scroogle," maybe it's worth opening your arms to the whole of humanity without attaching irritating strings to their beings.

Also: What is Google Bard? Here's everything you need to know

Be the new, gloriously open, work-with-anybody Microsoft. It might even make people like you all the more.

Or at least forget how you tried to force everyone to use Microsoft Edge.

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