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Microsoft to add Bing search to OpenAI’s ChatGPT in battle with Google

SEATTLE - Microsoft is bringing its Bing search engine to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, further tightening ties with the artificial intelligence (AI) start-up in a bid to challenge Google.

Bing will be part of the premium ChatGPT Plus service starting on Tuesday, Microsoft said, and the search engine will come to the regular version of the chatbot soon. Using Bing lets customers get up-to-the-minute information, whereas ChatGPT has been trained only on data through Sept 20, 2021.

Microsoft is OpenAI’s biggest investor and a key partner, giving it an edge in the race to weave AI into more software products. The start-up, whose chatbot became a viral hit in the past year, has helped Microsoft attract customers to a cloud-based service that lets its Azure clients use OpenAI products. Azure OpenAI now has 4,500 customers, including Volvo, Ikea, Mercedes-Benz Group and Shell. That’s up from 2,500 customers at the end of last quarter.

Microsoft will unveil the Bing ChatGPT update on Tuesday at a developer conference in Seattle. Earlier this month, OpenAI started adding web browsing as an optional capability to the paid Plus tier. That relied partly on Bing, though the arrangement wasn’t disclosed at the time.

Chief executive officer Satya Nadella has been refocusing Microsoft’s products around AI programs called copilots - assistants that help users perform tasks in Bing and Office, as well as security and finance software, based on OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology. The software maker is trying to boost sales, attract more cloud-computing business and better compete with Google in search. So far, the OpenAI partnership has helped Microsoft position itself at the forefront of a rapidly churning market for new types of AI tools.

Microsoft also is letting outside software developers and companies write programs that tie into its OpenAI-based AI software. As part of that push, Instacart, Redfin Corp., Zillow Group and Kayak Software Corp will work with Bing’s AI, Microsoft said. Adobe and Atlassian Corp, meanwhile, will release features for Microsoft’s corporate AI software that can be used with the Office suite.

On Tuesday, Microsoft will also discuss a new copilot, this one for Windows 11, starting with a preview version in June.

Windows Copilot will be accessible from a button on the computer screen’s taskbar, which opens a side panel that customers can use as an assistant. It will help them take actions like copying and pasting text, as well as rewriting, summarising and explaining content. Windows users can also ask it questions as they do with the Bing AI chat. BLOOMBERG