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Microsoft overhauls Bing browser, Edge in AI offensive

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 08 Feb 2023

Software giant Microsoft has put artificial intelligence (AI) at the core of its overhaul of its Bing search engine and Edge web browser.

“Today, we’re launching an all-new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, available in preview now at Bing.com, to deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience and the ability to generate content. We think of these tools as an AI co-pilot for the web,” says Microsoft in a blog post.

The announcement comes weeks after the Seattle-based company made a “multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, the AI-based start-up company that developed viral bot ChatGPT.

This, as the company takes the AI offensive to rival search engine giant Google, which this week announced it is testing its newly-developed conversational AI-powered chatbot, Apprentice Bard, which is expected to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

“AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search,” says Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.

“Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI co-pilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web.”

According to Statista’s global desktop market share report, as of December 2022, online search engine Bing accounted for nearly 9% of the global search market, while market leader Google had a share of around 84.08%. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s market share was 2.55%, it adds.

On the browser market, Statcounter notes that after struggling for a while, in December last year, Microsoft Edge crossed the 11% mark for the first time since its introduction (including the OG “Spartan” Microsoft Edge from 2015).

It says modern Chromium-based Edge gained 0.31 points, reaching an 11.17% market share. Google Chrome is at the top, sitting firmly in first place with a 66.13% share.

In the blog, Microsoft notes there are 10 billion search queries a day, but it estimates that half of them go unanswered.

It explains this is because people are using search to do things it wasn’t originally designed to do. It’s great for finding a website, but for more complex questions or tasks, too often it falls short, says the firm.

“Together with OpenAI, we’ve also been intentional in implementing safeguards to defend against harmful content. Our teams are working to address issues, such as misinformation and disinformation, content blocking, data safety and preventing the promotion of harmful or discriminatory content in line with our AI principles,” it says.

According to Microsoft, the new Bing gives an improved search experience, providing more relevant results for simple things like sports scores, stock prices and weather, along with a new sidebar that shows more comprehensive answers.

It points out that Bing reviews results from across the web to find and summarise the answer users will be looking for.

“For example, you can get detailed instructions for how to substitute eggs for another ingredient in the cake you are cooking right in that moment, without scrolling through multiple results or recipes.”

The revamped browser also comes with a new chat experience, says Microsoft. “For more complex searches – such as planning a detailed trip itinerary or researching what TV to buy – the new Bing offers an interactive chat experience, empowering you to refine searches until you get your desired answer, and with links available so you can immediately act on your decisions.”

It adds that the new Bing can generate content, including helping to write an e-mail, or create a five-day vacation itinerary.

Microsoft has also updated the Edge browser with new AI capabilities and a new look, adding two new functionalities – chat and compose.

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