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

Microsoft's AI chatbot has proved to be a worthy ChatGPT rival, even earning it a spot as ZDNET's best chatbot.
By Sabrina Ortiz, Editor on
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

What is Bing Chat?

In early February, Microsoft unveiled a new version of its search engine Bing, with its standout feature being its AI chatbot that is powered by more advanced technology than ChatGPT, OpenAI's GPT-4

Also: How to use the new Bing (and how it's different from ChatGPT)

With Bing Chat, you can ask the AI chatbot questions and get detailed, human-like responses with footnotes that link back to the original sources. Since it's connected to the internet, specifically Bing, it has the ability to provide you with up-to-date information, which is another capability that ChatGPT's free version doesn't boast. 

The chatbot can help you with your creative desires, such as writing a poem, essay, or song, it can solve complex math or coding tasks, and it can even generate images from text by using Bing's Image Creator within the same platform. 

What are the latest major announcements regarding Bing Chat?

The tech giant made many announcements regarding AI at Microsoft Build 2023 in May, including some major ones concerning ChatGPT. 

The biggest and most exciting news from the event was that Microsoft supercharged ChatGPT with Bing's AI-powered search

Also7 ways you didn't know you can use Bing Chat and other AI chatbots

The new Bing will support ChatGPT as its default search experience, granting ChatGPT access to the entirety of the web, as well as information on current events. 

As a result of the partnership, ChatGPT will also have citations now, allowing users to see exactly where its answers come from. 

Microsoft also announced it will adopt the same open-plugin standard as OpenAI, which will allow for interoperability across ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, which is an AI assistant feature for Microsoft 365 applications and services.

This openness is major news for Bing Chat users because OpenAI rolled out 70-plus plugins to its ChatGPT Plus subscribers just a week before Build.

Also: 5 handy AI tools for school that students, teachers, and parents can use, too

Bing Chat is also expected to get more plugins in addition to OpenTable and Wolfram Alpha, including Kayak, Klarna, Redfin, and Zillow. 

Lastly, Bing Chat will not only be found in Edge, but also in Windows 11 through a new Windows Copilot integration.

When can you expect other major Bing Chat announcements?

Microsoft has been consistently adding new features to Bing Chat and sharing those updates via its Bing Blog. However, to announce major Bing Chat updates, Microsoft will likely wait for a bigger stage, such as a company event like Microsoft Build or the Microsoft Surface and AI September event, which is coming up soon. 

AlsoEverything we're expecting at Microsoft's Surface and AI September event

Microsoft's "special event" in NYC is scheduled to take place on September 21. There, the company will likely make previously announced but as yet unreleased Bing Chat features available, as well as unveiling brand-new features. 

Even Corporate VP and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, Yusuf Mehdi, basically confirmed via an X post (formerly a tweet) that more AI innovations will be shared during the September 21 event. 

What have been some other recent updates to Bing Chat?

Microsoft has been on a hot streak for releasing updates. On a weekly basis, if not more often, Bing Chat has been getting convenient updates. 

On September 15, Bing Chat was integrated into the Microsoft Launcher application, which brings the Microsoft interface to Android phones' home screens. 

Also: ChatGPT-supported Bing Chat is now available in Microsoft Launcher

On Aug 25, the company officially added Bing Chat to Google Chrome, no longer restricting chatbot users to the Edge browser or the Bing mobile app. 

In a July 18 release, Microsoft released its Bing Chat enterprise solution, and updated the chatbot to accept both text and image inputs. 

In a June 2 release, Microsoft expanded Bing Chat's limit to 30 turns per chat and 300 chats per day. Bing Image Creator support was also expanded to all modes, and travel queries were optimized to give more visual results. 

In a May 22 release, Bing Chat got several long-awaited features, including a chat history, and no more chat or turn limits. 

AlsoChatGPT vs Bing Chat vs Google Bard: Which is the best AI chatbot?

Other bells and whistles that were added include better visuals in answers, videos in answers, improved auto-suggest, optimized answers for recipes, and privacy improvements in the Edge sidebar.

Before this release, Microsoft announced new AI features to its Bing, Swiftkey, Skype, and Edge apps. The highlight of this wave of updates was a Bing Chat widget that allows users to access Bing Chat from the smartphone's home screen. 

When was Microsoft's Bing Chat announced?

On February 7, 2023, Microsoft announced the new Bing in limited preview, meaning only a select number of people had access to it. This announcement came a day after Google announced its AI chatbot, Google Bard

Also: How to save or copy your Bing Chat responses

On May 4, 2023, Microsoft made the new Bing available to anyone who was willing to sign in to Bing with their Microsoft account. 

What language model does Microsoft's Bing Chat use?

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

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

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

Five weeks after launching, Microsoft revealed that Bing Chat runs on OpenAI'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. ChatGPT Plus users can access GPT-4 for the price of their Plus accounts. 

What types of inputs does does Bing Chat accept?

Like ChatGPT and all AI chatbots, Bing Chat can help with text queries, including (but not limited to) research, writing assistance, coding, and more. 

However, in addition, it can accept image inputs, which sets it apart from a lot of chatbots, including ChatGPT. 

AlsoNow you can upload photos to Bing Chat. Here's how this feature can help you

This feature allows users to upload images that they would like more information about, or that relate to the prompt in some way, and to learn about the pictures. 

For example, I uploaded an image of my puppy and asked Bing Chat what breed he was. Within seconds, Bing Chat released a response that was accurate. 

Bing Chat uses GPT-4 to power this feature and is, as of yet, the only chatbot to integrate GPT-4's multimodal abilities. 

AlsoYou can access Google's latest AI experiments with Google Labs. Here's how

Google Bard added the ability to upload image inputs to its Google Bard chatbot a week before Microsoft, via an integration with Google Lens.

What is Bing Chat's chat limit?

Since being released, the chatbot has gone through a series of chat limit changes. The most recent limit is 30 turns per conversation and 300 chats per day.

Who has access to Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot?

On May 4, the new Bing moved from limited preview to open preview, meaning everyone now has access to the chatbot without having to join a pesky waitlist. 

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other noteworthy alternatives

All you need to do to access the preview is sign in to Bing with your Microsoft account and you're all set.

Do you need a Microsoft account to access Bing's AI chatbot?

The guaranteed, straightforward way to access the full capabilities of Bing Chat is by signing in to your Microsoft account.

However, if you don't have a Microsoft account -- and have no desire to create one soon -- you are in luck. 

On May 16, Michael Schechter, vice president of growth and distribution at Microsoft, shared via Twitter (now X) that Microsoft is rolling out unauthenticated chat access on Bing.

Also4 ways teachers can use ChatGPT in their classrooms, according to OpenAI

With this update, users without a Microsoft account will be able to access a limited version of the chatbot. Without signing in to a Microsoft account, users are limited to five chat turns instead of the standard 20. 

Also, as of August 25, users can access Bing Chat in the Google Chrome browser, eliminating the need for installing Microsoft Edge or the Bing app.

What can you do with Bing Chat?

You can use Bing Chat for the same prompts you would use with any other AI chatbot, including ChatGPT. This includes the ability to generate new content, such as images, essays, code, text, and more. 

AlsoI've tested a lot of AI tools for work. These are my 5 favorite so far

Bing Chat can also serve as a more conversational search engine. Since it has access to the internet, Bing Chat can answer any question you have about current events, history, random facts, and more -- concisely and conversationally. 

Lastly, Bing Chat accepts image inputs, which allows you to ask questions and learn more about any image you upload. For example, you can upload an image of a painting and ask who painted it. 

Is there a Bing Chat app?

Yes, Bing Chat is accessible on mobile for both iPhone and Android devices via the Bing app. Although it's not solely dedicated to the chatbot, Bing Chat can be found in the bottom bar front and center as soon as you open the app. 

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. 

Also: How to use AI chatbots to do research for papers, presentations, studies, and more

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 was the initial controversy around Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot?

Select users were given early access to the chatbot, and they were not shy about sharing their experiences. Many of these users tested the chatbot's capabilities and exposed its flaws, which were varied. 

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

Also: AI is a lot like streaming. The add-ons add up fast

Consequently, Microsoft reeled in the chatbot with a new session limit, changing chat sessions from unlimited 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 noted 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," said Microsoft. 

Is Bing Chat better than ChatGPT?

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

Also: ChatGPT vs. Bing: Which AI chatbot is better for you?

Bing Chat is also the only way to access OpenAI's latest LLM, GPT-4, and its multimodal input features for free. For these reasons, Bing Chat earned its spot as ZDNET's overall best AI chatbot.

Will a premium tier come to Bing Chat anytime soon?

Even though Microsoft announced that several major upgrades would be coming to the chatbot soon, the company hasn't mentioned charging customers to use the technology.  

"Our goal is always for all these features, to be able to get to worldwide coverage, we want to make sure that thing is accessible to any market along the way," Dena Saunders, partner general manager for Bing, told ZDNET.

Also: 4 ways generative AI can stimulate the creator economy

This availability further differentiates Bing's AI chatbot from ChatGPT, which introduced ChatGPT Plus, its subscription service to offer customers perks, such as the latest features. 

Does Bing Chat have an enterprise solution?

On July 18, Microsoft announced Bing Chat Enterprise, a version of its AI-powered chatbot that is secure and suited to the workplace. 

AlsoBing Chat's enterprise solution is here. This is what it can offer your business

"With Bing Chat Enterprise, user and business data are protected and will not leak outside the organization. What goes in -- and comes out -- remains protected," said Microsoft. 

Upon release, Bing Chat Enterprise rolled out in preview at no additional cost for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium account holders. However, in the future, Microsoft disclosed it will charge a $5 per user fee. 

How will releasing Bing Chat affect Microsoft?

Microsoft's search engine Bing 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. 

In a recent blog post, Microsoft Consumer Chief Marketing Officer Yusuf Mehdi shared that, "Bing has grown to exceed 100 million daily active users and daily installs of the Bing mobile app have increased 4X since launch."

Yet as recently reported by ZDNET, despite Microsoft's AI efforts with Bing Chat and other initiatives, Bing's search market share has failed to budge after about six months of it being released. 

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