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What is the new Bing? Here's everything you need to know

Microsoft's AI chatbot has made headlines for its advanced capabilities and odd outbursts. But it's also how you can use GPT-4 right now for free.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Associate Editor on
Image: Jason Redmond/Getty Images

What is Bing Chat?

In early February, Microsoft unveiled a new version of Bing -- and its standout feature is its integration with ChatGPT. 

The new Bing has a chat feature powered by a next-generation version of OpenAI's large language model, making it "more powerful than ChatGPT," according to Microsoft.

Also: These experts are racing to protect AI from hackers. Time is running out

With the new Bing, you can ask the AI chatbot questions and get detailed, human-like responses with footnotes that link back to the original sources. The chatbot can also help you with creative needs, such as writing a poem, story, song, or more. 

When was Microsoft's new Bing announced?

On February 7, 2023, Microsoft announced the new Bing, which has been available to limited numbers of users since the launch date. This announcement came a day after Google announced its AI chatbot, Google Bard

What language model does Microsoft's new Bing use?

When Microsoft announced the Bing chatbot in February, it said that the chatbot would run on a next-generation OpenAI large language model customized specifically for search. 

Microsoft said the next-gen large language model (LLM) powering the new Bing is faster, more accurate, and "more capable" than ChatGPT or GPT-3.5, the LLM behind ChatGPT. 

Five weeks after launching, Microsoft revealed that Bing Chat runs on Open AI's latest language model, GPT-4. At the moment, the only free way to access GPT-4 is Bing Chat. GPT-4 is a more reliable, intelligent, and capable model than its predecessor, GPT-3.5.

What is Bing AI chatbot's chat limit?

On Mar. 13, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president and consumer chief marketing office, announced via Twitter that Bing Chat's new limit will be 15 chats per session, 150 total chats per day. 

This announcement was an even bigger expansion from its previous limit change on Mar. 9, which was 10 chats per session,120 total chats per day, double its previous limit.

When Microsoft first cut the chatbot's limit, it was limited to five chat turns per session and 50 per day. Shortly after, it was expanded to its most recent limit, six chat turns per session and 60 total chats per day. 

Who has access to Microsoft's new Bing?

Bing's chatbot is currently in a limited preview mode while Microsoft tests it with the public, but there is a waitlist you can join for early access. Some tips to move off the waitlist quicker include installing Edge, making it the default browser, and making Bing the default search engine. You can also install the Bing Mobile app. 

Also: Still waiting for Bing Chat access? Make sure you do these 4 things

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president and consumer chief marketing officer, says "multiple millions" have already joined the waitlist -- up from just over a million two days after launch.

"We are prioritizing those with Bing and Edge as their default search engine & browser as well as the Bing Mobile app installed to optimize the initial experience. Over time we intend to bring it to all browsers," wrote Mehdi. 

What is Microsoft's involvement with ChatGPT?

Microsoft was involved with ChatGPT before incorporating it into its Bing browser. The tech giant was an early investor in OpenAI, the AI research company behind ChatGPT, even before ChatGPT was released to the public. 

Microsoft's first involvement with OpenAI was in 2019, when Microsoft invested $1 billion, and then $2 billion in the years after. In January, Microsoft extended its partnership with OpenAI through a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment

Neither company disclosed the investment value, but unnamed sources told Bloomberg it will total $10 billion over multiple years. In return, Microsoft's Azure service will be OpenAI's exclusive cloud-computing provider, powering all OpenAI workloads across research, products, and API services.

What has been the controversy around Microsoft's new Bing?

Select users were given early access to the chatbot, and they have not been shy about sharing their experiences. Many of these users have made it their mission to test the chatbot's capabilities and expose its flaws, which were many. 

From revealing its confidential codename used internally by developers, to declaring its love to a New York Times writer and asking him to leave his wife, to wishing it was alive, the chatbot was acting out of hand. 

Also: Microsoft's ChatGPT-powered Bing argues with users, reveals confidential information

Consequently, Microsoft decided to reel in the chatbot with a new session limit, changing chat sessions from an unlimited session to a five-question limit, and a 50-chat turn limit per day. That limit was then expanded to six chat turns per session and 60 total chats per day, still less than the original experience users got. 

Microsoft notes that convoluted, long chat sessions were not something it was testing for internally, so the public's use and feedback has actually been useful in learning more about the chatbot. 

"In fact, the very reason we are testing the new Bing in the open with a limited set of preview testers is precisely to find these atypical use cases from which we can learn and improve the product," says Microsoft. 

Is Bing Chat better than ChatGPT?

ZDNET has tested both Microsoft Bing's chatbot and Open AI's ChatGPT chatbot. We found that Bing's version solved a few of the problems we had with ChatGPT, including knowledge of current events via internet access and footnotes with links to sources from the information it pulled. 

Bing Chat is also the only way to access OpenAI's latest LLM, GPT-4, for free. For these reasons, Bing Chat is more of a go-to app than ChatGPT for me.

How will releasing the new Bing affect Microsoft?

Microsoft's search engine is undergoing an unprecedented run in the spotlight after being overshadowed by Google Search for the past 14 years.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said ChatGPT will "fundamentally change" all software, starting with what he said was the "largest category of all -- search." Microsoft claims the addition to Bing of its next-generation version of OpenAI's GPT will lead to the "largest jump in relevance in two decades." For this task, it developed "Microsoft Prometheus," a proprietary model that meshes with OpenAI's models to generate more relevant results.  

Also: Microsoft: This is how we integrated ChatGPT-style tech into Bing search

If the buzz around ChatGPT does rub off on Bing as a search engine, Microsoft could see its user numbers increase meaningfully. ChatGPT gained 100 million users within just two months to become the fastest-growing 'app' of all time.

According to Statista, Bing has 1.2 billion users. But Bing also only has about 4% of the world's search market, compared to Google's 92%, according to Statcounter GlobalStats. 

Mehdi shared on Twitter that in only 30 days, Bing Chat's user engagement has been pretty significant. Within one month of being released, a total of 45M chats have taken place on the platform, with one-third of preview users being brand new to Bing.

Where can you access Bing Chat?

Once you are selected for the early preview of Bing's ChatGPT, you can access the chatbot on your desktop by downloading the Microsoft Edge browser and making Bing your default homepage. 

Also: Bing Chat is now available in the Microsoft Edge sidebar. Here's why this is a big deal

On Feb. 22, Microsoft also made it available on the new Bing mobile app, available on both iOS and Android. Microsoft decided to bring the new Bing to mobile to facilitate on-the-go searches since "64% of searches occur on mobile phones," according to Microsoft

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