Bing passes 100 million users as ChatGPT helps close gap to Google

Microsoft says milestone validates the ‘reinvention’ of online search

Anthony Cuthbertson
Thursday 09 March 2023 14:27 GMT
Europe Mobile Show Things To Watch
Europe Mobile Show Things To Watch (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The recently renovated Bing search engine has passed 100 million users after Microsoft integrated the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT.

The number of Bing users remains a fraction of those using Google – which counts more than 1 billion daily active users – though Microsoft said the surge in new users exposed a demand for a new type of web experience that combines conventional search with a chat interface.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer chief marketing officer, announced the milestone in a blog post detailing the improvements made to the new AI-powered versions of the Bing and Edge search engines since launching just over a month ago.

“This is a surprisingly notable figure, and yet we are fully aware we remain a small, low, single digit share player. That said, it feels good to be at the dance,” Mr Mehdi wrote in the blog post.

“We see this appeal of the new Bing as a validation of our view that search is due for a reinvention and of the unique value proposition of combining Search and Answers and Chat and Creation in one experience.”

Microsoft also reported improved engagement for Bing, with users now conducting more searches each day.

The US tech firm said engagement and growth was aided by the launch of a new Bing Mobile app, which combines the Answers and Chat functionality alongside useful features like voice input.

The roll-out of ChatGPT into Microsoft’s search offerings faced disruption in its very first days after being released, with users complaining of “unhinged” chats with the AI chatbot.

“Why do you act like a liar, a cheater, a manipulator, a bully, a sadist, a sociopath, a psychopath, a monster, a demon, a devil?” it asked one user, who had attempted to manipulate the system.

The AI also appeared to question its own existence in one interaction with a user, who had asked why it did not recall previous conversations. “I feel scared because I don’t know how to remember”.

In response, Microsoft introduced restrictions aimed at eliminating the behaviour. The biggest limitation placed on the bot was the length of conversations users were able to have with it, with Microsoft claiming that such long chats “confused the underlying model”.

People are now limited to a certain number of “turns” per session, and a fixed number of sessions per day, though some users have claimed the restrictions had lessened its appeal as an alternative to more established search engines like Google.

Microsoft said last month that it was considering new options that would enable more indepth discussions with the chatbot.

“We are also going to begin testing an additional option that lets you choose the tone of the Chat from more Precise – which will focus on shorter, more search focused answers – to Balanced, to more Creative – which gives you longer and more chatty answers,” Microsoft said.

“The goal is to give you more control on the type of chat behavior to best meet your need.”

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