Microsoft is seeking to expand the reach of its recently upgraded Bing search engine, to offer artificial intelligence (AI) functionality to millions of Windows users.

Microsoft said on Tuesday that in an update to Windows 11, it will start promoting its new Bing chatbot – which draws on startup OpenAI’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

It comes after Microsoft announced last month it was bundling AI capabilities into both its Bing search engine and Edge browser.

New Bing offers an interactive chat experience. This query shows someone asking if an IKEA couch will fit in the back of their car.
Image credit Microsoft

Windows Update

Days later search rival Google also held an AI-related press conferences to launch its integrated ChatGPT-style features into its search engine (aka Bard).

However Google experienced the downside of the interest in chatbots, when an video promotion for Bard showed the bot providing incorrect information, causing Google’s share price to plummet.

A couple of weeks later it was reported that Microsoft had initial talks with ad agencies about plans to insert advertisements into Bing AI search results generated by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot.

Microsoft’s decision to integrate AI functionality into its Edge browser and Bing search engine was despite the fact that Bing for years struggled to escape the shadows cast by Google’s search engine domination

Despite Microsoft’s share of search so far being about an estimated tenth of the market, the Windows operating system is responsible for 9 percent of Redmond’s revenues.

Indeed Windows is the world’s leading operating system, with about 82 percent share as of 2021.

Therefore adding a link to Bing AI next to the familiar Start button is a big step forward for the technology.

Microsoft reasoning

In the Windows 11 update, the latest operating system will include the new Bing in desktop computers’ search box, which helps half a billion monthly users navigate their files and the internet, the company said in a blog post.

“Today, we take the next major step forward adding to the incredible breadth and ease of use of the Windows PC by implementing a typable Windows search box and the amazing capability of the new AI-powered Bing directly into the taskbar,” wrote Panos Panay, chief product officer at Microsoft. “Putting all your search needs for Windows in one easy to find location.”

“The search box is one of the most widely used features on Windows, with over half a billion users every month, and now with the typable Windows search box and the new AI-powered Bing front and centre to this experience you will be empowered to find the answers you’re looking for, faster than ever before,” wrote Panay.

The search engine itself is still in a preview mode, accessible to more than 1 million people in 169 countries with a wait list for others, he wrote.

Meanwhile in addition to the new Bing, the Windows 11 update will include software that can connect to iPhone messages and calls starting with a limited set of users, Panay wrote.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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