In aligning Bing Chat with ChatGPT for once Microsoft is ahead of the game
Definitely not a repeat of Windows Phone.
For a platform as dominant as it is, living in the Windows ecosystem hasn't always been easy when it comes to getting the latest, hottest apps. As much as we loved Windows Phone, let's face it, it was hard at times.
Getting app developers to build for it and for Windows 8, then even the shared mobile/desktop/tablet platform of Windows 10 has been challenging. Microsoft has done a lot to make padding out its Store better and attract even holdouts like Amazon to start putting its apps on Windows.
But the next battleground is going to be AI chatbot plugins. With the meteoric rise in the first half of 2023 thanks mostly to ChatGPT, this is the next platform that folks will want their favorite apps and services integrated.
And this time, Microsoft is ahead of the game with Bing Chat. For once, it's not playing catch up.
Partnering with OpenAI and ChatGPT was inspired
Pumping huge wads of cash into OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT was an inspired move. Not only does Bing Chat get to use the GPT-4 model the same as ChatGPT (and for free no less, it's behind a paywall right now on ChatGPT) it will now benefit as we move into third-party plugins.
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As Microsoft shared at Build 2023, part of its partnership now extends to plugins with a shared platform. That means plugins built for ChatGPT can work in Bing Chat. This is huge, because ChatGPT is the clear market leader in generative AI chatbots right now. Before too long this stuff will be available outside of the paid ChatGPT Plus subscription to all 100 million plus users. And as Copilot moves into more Microsoft products, these will also benefit.
This time, Microsoft has attacked a new platform aggressively. Instead of requiring developers to build for Bing Chat specifically, it has removed that barrier entirely. Bing Chat is, in my opinion, better to use than ChatGPT for most people, but it certainly doesn't boast the same user count. It's much easier to parties when they don't have to do any extra work.
But it also promotes feature parity. You're more likely to get people using Bing Chat alongside ChatGPT this way. It doesn't need to be either or, Microsoft is going to benefit either way.
Bing Search also gets a handy boost
From the day that OpenAI announced it would be hooking ChatGPT up to the Internet we knew that Bing, not Google, would be powering the web search. It's a double-edged sword for Microsoft. The way we search the Internet is going to change, I mean, Google has already had to race its own products out because of this.
Bing is never going to compete meaningfully with Google. It just can't. Google is so big and so powerful. But ChatGPT has already disrupted the space without even having current data in its model. 100 million users pale in comparison to the amount of people going through Google every day, but if those people start using ChatGPT more and more then it'll be added traffic going through Bing instead.
It's been fun over the years to poke fun at Bing, but the truth is that it's a very capable search engine. The release of Bing Chat has removed my personal search activity entirely from Google already. I use ChatGPT and Bing Chat alongside each other, and I'm perfectly happy with getting Bing search data from either.
Where will we be in a few years time?
Right now, it feels a little like the early days of the iPhone and Android. Third parties are going to want in on this next great advancement in technology and it's going to be exciting to watch both ChatGPT and Bing Chat continue to grow.
I've already tested plugins on ChatGPT and while there are performance issues that still need to be improved upon, one thing was immediately clear.
I can foresee a time where ChatGPT or Bing Chat is where I spend most of my online time. Already we're seeing plugins that can help you plan an entire trip, build a playlist of your favorite music, digest complex documents and much more. These chatbots can help you write code, do calculations, prepare charts and tables. Even generate images from scratch. It's only going to get better from here, too.
Microsoft is still going to be the plucky underdog in most cases, but in aligning itself with the darling of the space it certainly hasn't hurt its chances of success. In the same way that "iPad" became synonymous with tablets, you can already see casual use of ChatGPT referring to generative AI. The billions invested in OpenAI could end up being some of the smartest money Microsoft has spent in some time.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
taynjackI'd say Microsoft is good at getting ahead in new spaces, but then they die on the vine from their own churn in direction less stupor. That being said, they seem to be getting it right this time. Let's hope they pull out an anomaly for them this time around.Reply