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Bing AI push rings in price change

Microsoft’s large investment in OpenAI has seen an expansion of AI in Bing. This appears to be reflected in new Bing API licensing

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Computer Weekly: Microsoft and Google go into battle for enterprise AI

Microsoft has opened up the OpenAI-enabled features in Bing, which were previously available as a limited preview. The expanded preview comes just days after the company rolled out new pricing for Bing API, which has seen a licence fee hike for developers who want to use Bing’s service in their own systems.

The open preview means people will not have to join a waitlist to test Bing Chat, which is powered by technology from OpenAI.

The company aims to cement artificial intelligence (AI) in Bing, moving from text-only search to offering results that also embed images and video answers.

Microsoft has also integrated Bing Image Creator into the Bing chat experience, which the company said makes it the only search experience with the ability to generate both written and visual content in one place.

Integration with third-party information providers is another part of Microsoft’s plans to build out Bing, as it attempts to supplant Google as the top internet search provider. Yusuf Mehdi, consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft, wrote: “We’ll soon build third-party plugins into the Bing chat experience, creating a platform for developers.”

One example is using Bing’s integration with OpenTable to help users find and book a reservation. Microsoft has also worked with Wolfram|Alpha to enable people to create visualisations and, he said, find answers to complex science, maths and human-curated data-based questions directly from Bing Chat.

“We are working with our partners at OpenAI to make it easier and as consistent as possible for developers to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Mehdi. “We believe these types of skills are a game-changer in the reinvention of search and to advance opportunities for developers in search.”

Read more about AI-powered chat

  • Microsoft's $10bn investment in OpenAI brings AI-supported updates to its basic Teams offering, on top of features supported by GPT-3.5 to Microsoft Teams Premium.
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However, Microsoft has made what is seen as a significant increase to the costs incurred by those using any Bing API products: search, images, news, videos, visual, entity, spell check and autosuggest. While there is a limited free tier, the lowest-price S1 tier costs $25 per 1,000 transactions.

According to Colin Hayhurst, CEO of non-tracking search engine Mojeek, there has been a flurry of interest in the usage of search for chatbots and machine learning applications, which is fuelling renewed interest in search data.

“By increasing the API prices to such a degree, Microsoft has decided to pick a fight with Google through changing the form of their search duopoly,” he said. “Until now, Microsoft had been content to challenge Google through Bing API partners like DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and Yahoo!. Now, these companies are being exploited for profit.”

Independent internet search provider Brave has decided to stop using Bing API. In a blog post, the company described the reason behind its decision to move as “uncertainty over the future of the Bing API”, which it said grew after the Microsoft and OpenAI partnership.

“We feared for the continuity of the Bing service, which turned out to be a prescient concern, as Microsoft recently announced an unprecedented increase in its API pricing,” it stated. “This created undue pressure for search engines that rely partly or fully on the Bing Search API. The consequences of their reliance on Bing will play out in the following months, when their long-term contracts expire.”

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has also threatened to cut off search data if search providers using the Bing API use Bing’s search results to train their own AI chat systems.

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