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Monday, July 15, 2024

Microsoft axes Bing wait list, giving users free access to GPT-4

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Microsoft recently announced a slew of new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features for its Bing chatbot and Edge web browser. Chief among the changes, Bing users now have full access to the GPT-4 model — the same underlying engine that powers ChatGPT’s “Plus” subscription service.

Previously, Microsoft held access to the GPT-4 version of the Bing chatbot to a “limited preview.” It’s now announcing open availability through the Bing app, web access and the Edge browser.

Aside from giving Bing, Edge and Windows users free, unfettered access to the GPT-4 model, Microsoft also announced upcoming support for multimodal outputs, chat history and plug-ins.

Multimodal support will allow the Bing chatbot to generate responses, which include a combination of text, images and videos. It will also have the ability to generate charts and graphs, something that could give it a leg up over ChatGPT.

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Users will also have access to their full chat history and, for those using the Edge browser, the ability to move chats to the sidebar to continue surfing in the same tab. Microsoft says this feature will be implemented “starting shortly.”

In the future, according to the blog post, Bing may even be able to reference previous sessions when interacting with users:

“Over time, we’re exploring making your chats more personalized by bringing context from a previous chat into new conversations.”

Perhaps the most ambitious addition announced is “Edge Actions,” also referred to as “Bing Actions,” Microsoft’s term for upcoming integrations featuring third-party plug-ins for Bing chat.

The only plug-ins specifically mentioned in the announcement are OpenTable, which would allow users to reserve seats at restaurants directly within the chat interface, and Wolfram/Alpha, a modality that would allow users to create complex visualizations for math and science queries. Microsoft says more integrations will be revealed as they’re implemented.

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The new features won’t require any purchases or subscriptions, though users will need a free Microsoft account to take advantage of the Bing chatbot’s full suite of functions.

By contrast, OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus service costs $20 per month for access to the same GPT-4 model (the freely available ChatGPT service relies on GPT-3.5). Furthermore, ChatGPT Plus doesn’t currently offer image generation, web search or third-party plug-in support.

It’s unclear how Microsoft and OpenAI intend to balance their respective offerings. Experts weighing in on social media have expressed confusion over what appears to be competition for users, as the companies essentially partnered up after Microsoft invested $10 billion in OpenAI.

As it currently stands, those paying for ChatGPT Plus do receive certain benefits not available to the general public or Bing chatbot users. These include early access to new features, priority access to the system even during periods of high traffic and faster response times from the model.

The cryptocurrency world has seen an explosion of interest in chatbot technologies throughout 2023. Developers have built advanced autonomous trading bots on the GPT-4 platform, and many individual crypto users have begun employing chatbots for a variety of reasons.

Related: Crypto Twitter uses new AI chatbot to make trading bots, blogs and even songs

It’s unknown at this time if OpenAI intends to adjust its subscription offering in the face of Bing’s ubiquity — Microsoft says the search engine now boasts 100 million users, while the addition of Bing AI to the Windows taskbar gives it a potential global reach of more than half a billion users per month.

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