ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Bing’s new A.I. chatbot: First look

An attendee interacts with the AI-powered Microsoft Bing search engine and Edge browser during an event at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Microsoft unveiled new versions of its Bing internet-search engine and Edge browser powered by the newest technology from ChatGPT maker OpenAI.

Chona Kasinger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft has given a small group of people early access to the new version of its Bing search engine boosted with artificial intelligence courtesy of startup OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.

CNBC has spent some time testing it. The new Bing can at times be more helpful, or at least more entertaining, than the usual blue links in search results. And it’s similar to ChatGPT in that it provides a lot more information than you might expect from a traditional search.

If Microsoft manages to get more people to use Bing, it could make the company even more profitable than it already is. For every percentage point that Microsoft gains in search advertising, it will pick up $2 billion in new revenue, Phil Ockenden, finance chief for the company’s Windows, devices and search divisions, said on a Tuesday conference call with analysts. “This is the largest software category that exists, and it’s incredibly profitable, incredibly large and still growing,” Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said on the call.

So far, the new Bing feels like it’s been supercharged, and at the very least, people might want to try it out to see if it satisfies them more than traditional search engines that billions of people have come to know in the past 25 years.

Here’s what it’s like.

You can chat with the new Bing

After you search on Bing, you can challenge the results rather than clicking on a few URLs or typing out a new query. To compare, I asked the current version of Bing to identify the largest software category, to which it said the answer is “enterprise software” with a citation to Statista. The new version provides similar information at the top of the search results page, but below that, you’ll find a text box in which you can type a message and kick off a chat. You might ask, “Really?” And Bing will respond with more information attempting to validate its previous answer.

That gets into the question of accuracy. You might ask the AI-boosted search engine if the response is wrong, for example. And the new chat feature will say that “one could argue that search advertising is the largest software category in the world by revenue,” and hedges by noting there are many ways to evaluate different kinds of software. That’s not what we’re used to seeing when we go to a search engine. It’s downright entertaining.

Bing is now like ChatGPT but it can provide more information

The chat feature in Bing can also perform a variety of fun maneuvers that people have come to know they can do with ChatGPT, the OpenAI chatbot that’s been available since late November. And people will surely compare it with Bing’s new chatbot.

With some queries, Bing, drawing on OpenAI’s GPT AI model, provides results that appear to go above and beyond what was asked compared to ChatGPT.

Consider the following prompt: “If I wanted to familiarize myself with the concept of German expressionism, what movies, music, and literature should I watch, listen to, and read?”‘

When that prompt is entered into ChatGPT, the OpenAI tool generates three bulleted lists detailing examples of German Expressionism in film, music and literature. The bullet points are simple and economical, containing examples of German Expressionism such as the 1920 film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” and Gustav Meyrink’s novel “The Golem.”

Bing not only presents lists of cinema, music, and literature representing German Expressionism, but it also gives users extra context about the artistic movement. The result looks like a Wikipedia entry about German Expressionism, complete with footnotes linking to the source material, coupled with examples of the genre that complied with the prompt’s request.

Other differences between Bing and ChatGPT

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