Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images
- Microsoft announced the integration of an AI language tool into its search engine Bing.
- The news came amid a race between Microsoft and Google to compete against OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
- Insider gave Bing a try and its highly personalized answers won us over.
Microsoft has unveiled an AI-powered version of its Bing search engine, intensifying its rivalry with Google, which on Monday announced its own AI chatbot, Bard.
“The race starts today,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on Tuesday at an event announcing the launch.
Google has dominated the search engine space for the last two decades. It accounts for around 93% of the global search engine market, compared with around 3% for Bing, according to Statcounter, a web analytics service.
But if Microsoft’s multi-billion bet in OpenAI pays off, the new Bing search engine could knock Google from its perch.
Insider gave Bing a try. Here are our first impressions:
Huge search box
We were impressed straight away by the large search box in Bing, which included a prompt to “ask me anything.”
Compared with the one-line search box that Google offers, where sometimes you’re unsure whether you’ve made any typos or repeated a word, Bing allows you to see all of the 1,000 characters of your request.
Its layout is very minimalist and feels more accessible than Google’s interface.
There’s a waitlist to access the feature but you can get to the front of the line by making Microsoft your default browser and downloading the mobile app on your phone. Insider gained access to it.
We used one of the three suggested questions it offered and asked, “I am planning a trip for our anniversary in September. What are some places we can go that are within a 3-hour flight from London Heathrow?”
Screenshot of the new version of Bing responding to one of Insider’s questions.
The AI congratulated us on the anniversary and said: “There are many places you can go that are within a 3-hour flight from London Heathrow. Here are some suggestions based on your preferences and the best destinations in Europe in September.”
It suggested going to either Spain, France, or Italy, and gave reasons as to why we might want to go there. These included beaches, mountains, or art and history.
Bye boring blank homepage
Another feature that surpasses Google is the search engine’s homepage background, giving you a default visual without the user having to customize it.
At time of publication, the default backdrop was a panorama of mountains with a pinkish sky.
If you use Google, you will need to go and change the setting yourself.
Button for AI tools
To help users make the most of its newly integrated AI skillset, Bing now features a button in the upper-right corner that lists a selection of writing tools.
The new features allow users to generate texts based on tone. There are five options, including “professional,” “casual,” and “enthusiastic.” You can also specify the length and format of the text to be generated.
Highly personalized answers
Bing’s answer to our question, while generic, felt more personalized than Google’s response when we asked it the same question.
In its response, the first link Google suggested was: “10 Short Flights from the UK to Somewhere Hot.” When we clicked, it took us to a blog post about exactly that – but it didn’t feel as helpful as Bing.
Bing gave us three destinations, which was the perfect amount of suggestions as it didn’t require us to do a lot of sifting through the options.
Microsoft’s search engine felt like we had our own personal assistant somehow. Its response was tailored and detailed. Unlike Google, which would have required us to do some digging, Bing seemed more helpful.
It did, however, play it safe by suggesting destinations based on our preferences. It could have added a destination we were not familiar with or wouldn’t have thought about in the first place.
Bing’s response also appeared to back up everything it suggested by hyperlinking to websites that it got the information from. It also added a footnote, much like you would see in academic writing.
Overall, Bing’s highly tailored search suggestions and its huge user-friendly search box won us over. We think it’ll prove difficult for Google to compete against those points unless it implements changes to its one-line search bar.