New versions of Microsoft’s search engine and internet browser will use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide users with instant written answers, the company has announced.
Software developed by ChatGPT creators OpenAI will now allow Bing and Edge to give footnoted responses to search queries and summarise detailed information from multiple sources.
Users can trial the technology now ahead of a full rollout over the “coming weeks”.
The announcement comes just one day after Google revealed its own AI-powered search engine chatbot, named Bard.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said the changes were needed because search engines had not progressed for 20 years and half of Bing searches currently fail to answer user queries.
“I think this technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” he told a press conference at the firm’s Seattle headquarters.
“The race starts today, and we’re going to move and move fast. Most importantly, we want to have a lot of fun innovating again in search, because it’s high time.
“It’s a new day in search, it’s a new paradigm for search, rapid innovation is going to come.”
AI-generated answers will now appear on the right of the Bing interface, with the traditional webpage links and images remaining on the left.
The company is also introducing a “Chat” feature to Bing similar to ChatGPT, the parent company of which Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into.
On the Edge browser, the next-generation AI technology can be used to draw up custom meal plans, travel itineraries and music trivia quizzes at the user’s request.
It can also immediately summarise academic articles and company reports, compare them with others and rewrite code into different languages.
The competition to innovate using AI was evident throughout the press conference as Microsoft’s leaders criticised other search engines’ failure to innovate.
Yusuf Mehdi, its chief marketing officer, said: “We have to adapt to search, not the other way around.
“Search has remained the same since the last major inflection. The user experience is the same as 20 years ago.”
Google will host its own launch event for Bard on Wednesday, which it revealed on Monday just minutes before Microsoft announced today’s press conference.
Sundar Pichai, its chief executive, said AI will “soon” be integrated into the company’s search engine to provide written answers to search queries in addition to links to relevant webpages, images and videos.
He added the tool would allow Google to answer questions in a more intelligent way that went beyond just providing basic factual information.
Mr Pichai insisted the bot would be both “bold and responsible”, but did not specify how the company would prevent it producing harmful or abusive content.
Bard will use the company’s existing Lamda software, which was described last year by an engineer as “sentient” and the intellectual equivalent of a human child.
Blake Lemoine, 41, was sacked by the firm after making the claims, which it described as “wholly unfounded”.