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Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Modern Life, Search, and Devices, speaks during a keynote address announcing ChatGPT integration for Bing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, on February 7, 2023. – Microsoft’s long-struggling Bing search engine will integrate the powerful capabilities of language-based artificial intelligence, CEO Satya Nadella said, declaring what he called a new era for online search. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP)

Can Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing search engine convince users to make the switch?

The last few weeks have been somewhat revolutionary in the search engine space. As Microsoft announced plans for a new and updated Bing search engine with AI at its core, the world’s biggest search engine, Google, has also started finding ways of incorporating AI into helping users with their search results.

Since Microsoft started the ball rolling by integrating AI into its search engine, Google and several other tech companies have joined the race. All these companies are finding ways they can make the most of AI on their platforms. Microsoft has already released a preview version and many users have found the updates both revolutionizing and exhilarating. For some, the use of the chat function on the updated Bing search engine has been quite comical but also worrying to some extent.

Tech Wire Asia had a few conversations with the chat function on the new Bing and ended up with some weird results as well. For example, when asked about Champions League football, the AI wasn’t up-to-date; it gave results from the previous season.

What’s also interesting is that when the AI was asked to tell a joke, it shared a story of how it gave a user the wrong information for a recipe and messed up their meal. When told that the story is not really funny, the AI seemed to be “upset” and ended the conversation. The image below shows the conversation.

Using the chat function, Tech Wire Asia asked Bing to tell a funny story. (Source – Tech Wire Asia)


The AI ended the conversation when it was told the story was not funny. (Source – Tech Wire Asia)

There have been many reports of users going through similar scenarios as well. In some cases, the AI even made the user feel unsafe with its responses. Since then, Microsoft has taken note of these reports and has limited the number of queries a user can ask in the chat function. They claim that AI is still learning and needs time to adapt.

The grass isn’t any greener on other platforms. Google’s Bard – its version of an AI search engine — caused the company heavy losses after giving out wrong information. Several tech companies in China claim to be working on similar platforms as well but have yet to showcase any working examples, with Baidu’s Ernie Bot seemingly the only one confident of availability in March 2023.

Search engine: From Google Search to Bing 

As tech companies continue to perfect the technology, the question still remains on which platform will the most successful and preferred choice of users. According to statistics, most users still prefer using Google for their search queries with Microsoft only making a small chunk of the numbers.

But with AI seemingly revolutionizing search engines, Google knows it will have to take on Microsoft despite dominating the numbers. For Microsoft though, it is all about convincing users to make the switch to Bing from Google Search.

Currently, users need to access the new Bing search engine on Microsoft’s Edge browser. Getting users to use the Edge browser will ultimately be the first challenge Microsoft would need to solve. Statistics show that as of January 2023, Microsoft’s Edge browser only has a market share of 14.15% in the US. Google’s Chrome controls the browser market with 61% with Apple’s Safari browser coming in second.

Globally, Chrome also controls about 64% of the browser market. Other browsers include Mozilla Firefox which has almost the same number of users as the Edge browser. Hence, Microsoft would first need to convince more users to use their Edge browser before going all out on Bing.

At the same time, the new Bing needs to offer something that Google or any other search platform can. Currently, that would be its chat function, but other platforms will soon catch up.

This is where Microsoft needs to really get its focus. They’ve already announced some voice capability updates for mobile apps and Skype users. Still, is it enough to convince users to move from Google Search to Bing?

At the end of the day, Microsoft needs to go back to the basics of helping a user to solve a problem – which is what the purpose of the technology is.

As Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President & Consumer Chief Marketing Officer said in a blog post when announcing the AI-powered Bing, “there are 10 billion search queries a day, but we estimate half of them go unanswered. That’s 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.”