Search powered by GPT – quick overview of the new Bing

Search powered by GPT - quick overview of the new Bing

The new Bing is available as a limited Preview and I got a chance to play with it. It has been released in a few weeks and got a lot of attention. A totally new search experience with AI chat is something that could change the future of how we search. I found it very useful in certain scenarios, but some areas require significant improvements.

The new Bing

Before I’ll show you the new Bing let’s talk a little about its core – ChatGPT. It is a text chat-bot based on a generative pre-trained transformer model.

The chat introduced a new way of working with text and data last year. It’s been here for a few months and gained tremendous attention and hype. It can generate a poem, answer your question, summarize a text, explain something, and much more. You can use it directly from the OpenAI site or integrate it with your app (works with Power Automate and Power Apps 😊).

There are limits as usual:

  • ChatGPT has been trained on Internet data, but the data cuts off in 2021. It means the chat is unaware of anything newer than its training set. The chat is also unaware of anything that is beyond its training data.
  • ChatGPT is not connected to the Internet and can rely only on its database and knowledge

Microsoft took the model (GPT 3.5) and used it to enhance its own search engine – Bing. To adapt the chat to work with the search engine, Microsoft created its own model that works like a middle-tier between a user and the GPT model. Together with other improvements such as additional safeguards and modification of core search logic in the Bing engine, Microsoft created the new Bing experience.

The new Bing is something more than a classic search – it gives you more advanced responses and you can talk with it using a chat window.

What’s most important – the new Bing uses GPT 3.5 model to work on search data. You can use the latest information to get results or generate new content.

“Classic” search experience

When you open a “classic” search engine you can type the text that you want to find. You can type a word, a phrase, or a full sentence. Click a search icon or button and the engine shows results.

In this example I typed “transistor” and the Bing engine showed me a description from Wikipedia (1), a list with links to pages where I can read about transistors (2), and details about the searched term (3). In case of info from popular service, you get a short description as a first result and more links below.

This time I searched for Premier League games highlights from March 1st. I got a lot of links and some related searches but there is no clear information about games. To find it I must go through links  – I can find the answer on the first page or on the 20th page.

 In many cases, you must dig through hundreds of links and change your search query many times. Briefly – you get links to pages that contain the full part of a searched phrase.

The new Bing search experience

Now let’s test the same query (Premier League games highlights from March 1st) in the new Bing.

I got the same list of links plus the answer in the marked box. Bing analyzed the results and wrote the answer using natural language! I do not need to check links. I also got links to source pages and options to refine my query. I selected one of the proposed refinements and Bing opened a new Chat window with additional information.

In the chat window, you can talk with Bing instead of manually modifying search queries. You can use proposed options or type a question in the input field.

Let’s look at the chat window:

  1. The answer
  2. Links to source pages (that’s critical – you can check if the answer is correct!)
  3. The number of available chats per session. In the beginning, you could chat with Bing within one session forever. Now you can send up to 6 messages to Bing. When you start a new session, the limit is reset. Long chats “confused” the AI model and made it unpredictable. Microsoft added this limit to make it more correct and prevent hacking the model.
  4. Proposed refinements
  5. Start a new chat session
  6. Input your own question

Conversation styles

Microsoft added conversation styles to Bing in one of the updates.

  • Creative – responses are original and imaginative. Good when you want to generate content, get some creative suggestions, or be surprised.
  • Balanced – responses are reasonable and coherent. This is the default style
  • Precise – responses are factual and concise. If you’re looking for facts this style is for you.

Styles give you an easy way to select how the Bing chat behaves. If you’re looking for facts (e.g., business news) use the Precise style, for more creative (e.g., you need a restaurant suggestion) responses use the Creative style. The default style is Balanced and gives you accurate enough results with some touch of creativity.

Use cases

Where does the new Bing shine?

  • Detailed information or highlights

If you’re looking for specific information and don’t want to go through tons of links the new Bing is a good solution. You can quickly start with a search phrase and refine results and get more details about the topic.

  • Generate content

This one isn’t obvious, but it works in the same way as in ChatGPT. You can ask the chat to generate something for you. It can be a poem (why not), sample data for your presentation, or dummy document text. You can enhance generated content for your needs using refinements and suggestions from the chat.

  • Looking for suggestions

If you want to visit a new restaurant or get information about famous painters use the new Bing. It will generate a list of restaurants based on your preferences or give you a list of famous painters. In the example below I asked the new Bing for a famous French painter. I got a list of 5. Now I can ask for more info about a specific one, check sources, or get more details about impressionism.

  • Planning

Planning a trip and want to get a list of restaurants, and places to visit, book hotels, and check COVID rules? The new Bing will give all the information you need with detailed links to source pages. It’s extremely important to confirm such information to avoid trouble at a destination airport or a hotel. Using chat, you avoid searching and scrolling for the right information. I tested it on the real case and the information I got was 100% correct. It doesn’t mean it will always be correct. It could’ve been just pure luck, or I checked a basic use case. I will test it on some more advanced cases for sure.


So, will it transform the way we search? Is it good?

There’s no one simple answer. I found it extremely useful in some cases:

  • generate sample content is a fantastic way to speed up my work;
  • suggestions work very well for me.
  • Summarizing content is great and gave me impressive results
  • Getting rules (e.g., COVID rules, safety rules on planes) or planning a trip worked also well

What’s not so good:

  • Getting highlights or summaries of the latest news was the most problematic area for me. I got many weird results even for basic queries, results were inconsistent, and highlights were inaccurate or sometimes completely bad. I managed to get proper results, but it took some time and I’m not sure if the method will work. I will play with this more.
  • User experience… The chat is slow, really slow. I know it takes time to search sites for my query and generate an answer using the GPT model but at this stage, it’s too slow in many cases. If I want to find something quickly “classic” search engines give me an answer within a second. Even If I must go through some pages, it’s still way faster than talking with the new Bing.

Those issues or bad experiences can be caused by the current state of the new Bing. This is a preview version, moreover a limited preview. This is simply a beta version released to check how users can use it, find more use cases, get information on what’s missing and what’s good at this stage, analyze users’ actions to prevent hacking and add more safeguards, etc.

I’m pretty sure that it will be heavily updated in the upcoming months, and the user experience and result quality will improve.

I think that it could change the way we use search engines. In highlighted areas, the new Bing shines really bright. I was able to get more detailed information faster compared to the “classic” search engines. Integration with the Edge browser (it’s already available in the developer preview and it gives more features than the new Bing itself) and integration with Windows 11 will move it even further. I will test it much more in the next few months.

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