Microsoft outlined its grandiose intentions for an AI-powered Bing search engine one year ago today. It was the largest launch in Bing’s history, contributed to the widespread use of AI, and sparked both excitement and fear about what else AI may affect in the future. Even Google was sufficiently rattled by the launch’s success, since the company was soon perceived as lagging behind in artificial intelligence.
The Verge was informed at the time by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that “they will definitely want to come out and show that they can dance.” “And I want everyone to be aware that we got them to dance.”
The plan of action was successful. However, Bing doesn’t seem to be mentioned anymore after a year. According to StatCounter, Google continues to have a 91 percent market share in conventional search, while ChatGPT has grown to 100 million weekly users in only a few short months. In contrast, Bing’s portion of the worldwide search market has increased by less than 0.5 percent.
It’s not necessarily a failure in Microsoft’s eyes. According to Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer for consumers, “we’ve seen [Bing] share grow,” in an interview with The Verge. Mehdi claims that while the launch may not have “completely reshaped the search landscape,” it has had a significant enough impact for Microsoft. “For Microsoft, even a few percentage points of share growth is significant, and customers should contribute more.”
Microsoft’s AI aspirations did, however, soar even though Bing may not have. The corporation has included AI capabilities into almost everything in the last year, including Office applications, Paint on Windows, and even a laptop key specifically for AI. Microsoft has AI features everywhere you look, and they’re not going to stop anytime soon.
Microsoft has shifted its focus from Bing to Copilot, a “AI companion” that is being progressively integrated into all of its important products and services. For Copilot, Microsoft has now produced a Super Bowl commercial that will run on Sunday. A few months ago, after changing their brand from Bing,
Microsoft surprised everyone by releasing a new Copilot Super Bowl commercial. In the past, the company used the multimillion-dollar advertising spots to share moving tales of gamers with disabilities and to remind people why its software is important. This time, there’s simply one iPhone and a push to download the Copilot app for iOS and Android; no Windows PCs, spreadsheets, or Xbox consoles. You wouldn’t even realise till the very end that it is a Microsoft ad if you’ve never heard of Copilot.
Mehdi remarks, “That’s a pretty big thing from a company that historically has been heavy with the PC, at least with individuals.”
The Super Bowl commercial, which highlights the notion of utilising AI to be creative, toes the line between giving individuals the ability to do tasks that they would otherwise need to learn and be proficient at and raising fears about AI taking employment, especially in the creative sector.
Additionally, there has been a small but noteworthy shift in Microsoft’s AI initiatives. The software developer has been steadily focussing on developing Copilot a stand-alone solution in recent months, moving away from the revived search war with Google. Mehdi explains, “We cleaned up all these other things and we renamed Bing Chat because we really got behind a single brand called Copilot.” Thus, we share a single brand and experience.
Alongside this marketing campaign, Microsoft is also releasing new Copilot features that enhance the AI assistant’s picture production powers and the user experience as a whole. Regarding the generation of images, you may now apply effects like pixel art, blur the backdrop of an image, and highlight things in an AI-generated picture. The app’s visual appeal has also been greatly improved by the corporation.
It will seem and feel different. Mehdi explains, “We’ve made a lot of really subtle changes to the user experience, such the colour treatments, the spacing, and the quicker pace. Once it was observed that Bing users were utilising Copilot, the emphasis shifted to picture generation.
Because Microsoft has been providing image creation for free to everyone, Copilot has seen a huge increase in its popularity. While this makes the instruments easier to use, it also makes them more vulnerable to misuse. Microsoft had to fix a bug that allowed its AI image generator to produce pornographic pictures of famous people. Last month, there was a trend on X about AI-generated photographs of Taylor Swift. It was reported that users were utilising Microsoft Designer AI image maker to create and trade similar images. “Arresting and dreadful,” according to Microsoft CEO Nadella, the AI fakes were. Last week, Microsoft said that it was “continuing to analyse these photos and have improved our current safety controls to further prevent our services from being exploited to assist make images like…”
According to Mehdi, a lot of Copilot users use it for programming to write code, research, and analysis in addition to creating images, but there is still a lot of searching being done. “Of the five billion chats we’ve discussed, I would estimate that about 70% of the chats are basically searches,” Mehdi explains.
It’s evident that Microsoft’s decision to move away from search as their main AI entry point has an effect on how Copilot appears in different goods and services. For the Copilot brand, which began life within GitHub and subsequently made appearances in a few sales products before getting a greater push as the Microsoft 365 Copilot inside Office programmes, this has been a perplexing year. Eventually, Copilot for Microsoft 365 replaced it.
It appears that this is currently shifting. Mehdi says, “We want to get to the point where every individual has a single Copilot.” “That Copilot can then add features based on your subscriptions.” In light of this, Copilot Pro and Copilot for Microsoft 365 subscriptions are only add-ons to the core Copilot service.
“I believe we will be adding more and more of such items over time. Therefore, we want to get to the idea of a personal Copilot that is yours, and we want it to access everything you have with your IDs, both personal and professional, adds Mehdi. “We’ll see where we end up from there. There will be numerous extensions in the future.
Additionally, Microsoft is developing a significant AI-focused Windows update. Although Mehdi refrained from discussing the intricacies of Microsoft’s plan to reimagine Windows for artificial intelligence, he did provide some general guidelines. Mehdi explains, “The special feature of Copilot inside Windows is that it can understand the pages, so it can do more rich things.” Copilot is aware of the context in which it is operating.
Microsoft is also considering using the NPU technology that is beginning to be included in Windows laptops, as well as running sophisticated AI models locally on PCs—something on which Nvidia and other companies have recently concentrated. Most of that is in line with our expectations.
“I estimate that about 20% of Windows users only utilise 10% of its functionality. We can make everyone a proficient Windows user once you can command someone to “Hey, put my PC in dark mode, set up that printer for me, help me get the following going,” claims Mehdi. “It may sound corny, but I believe that will unlock quite profound possibilities for people to use computers to accomplish incredible feats.”
Though it’s not as prominent now as it once was, Bing’s AI undoubtedly marked a significant turning point for Microsoft. Furthermore, although the effect on Bing was not as great, it was felt throughout the entire product range.