Microsoft wakes up the world once again with ChatGPT Browser and Bing
Microsoft announced last week that it would integrate ChatGPT into its Bing search engine and only function through its Edge browser.
AI, in general, is a game changer. Generative AI, in particular, can interact with the user as if they were real. Google was caught unawares. Ironically, this was usually Microsoft’s issue.
Microsoft caught up to Apple’s graphical user interface. Microsoft caught up with Unix, primarily Sun Microsystems. Microsoft caught up to Netscape’s browser. Microsoft has a history of coming from behind and taking the market from those who were first. Microsoft has been the first company to bring generative AI up to scale. Its aggressive move has scared Alphabet, which is now in a state of panic.
With this single move, Microsoft can repeat its past success against Apple, Sun Microsystems, and Netscape. This is reminiscent of Microsoft’s more successful efforts before Steve Ballmer when they were more willing to go the extra mile to win.
This week, we’ll explore what AI-powered Bing means for search and how Microsoft is putting Google on its heels. We’ll finish with my Product Of The Week, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 30th Anniversary.
Generative AI: The Advantage
Search mode lets you fully describe your search instead of pretending you understand Boolean logic.
The new Bing service, for example, recommended that I watch “Thunderball,” ranked sixth in popularity and has the highest-ranking Bond gadget.
You’ll get only articles ranked by Bond films if you enter the same query in Google. You’d have to ask more questions in Google to get the same answer. Maybe.
Chat is available (currently only by invitation because we try to embarrass Microsoft with our chat applications and then report it on social media), so you can refine your results or write them down.
Bing’s answer was much better than mine and will only improve with time. I would have selected “Goldfinger,” forgetting that “Thunderball” contains most of the gadgets in “Goldfinger” and many more.
The Jet Pack should help “Thunderball’s” ranking in quantity and quality. (Due to all the unique tracking and underwater gear). Now, I see that “Thunderball’ was a much better choice than mine.
You can refine your search by having a chat with the tool. It will let you refine your search with additional arguments, even if chat is turned off.
I am adamant that once we get used to talking with computers, just as we have abandoned the “command line” for GUIs, Boolean logic will be replaced by plain language interfaces. We could combine GUIs with voice interfaces.
Why Google is screwed
Google faces a double problem.
It made the same mistake as Microsoft with its IE web browser, treating search like a cash cow requiring no investment. Google’s second major problem is the near-nonexistent switching costs between Google and Bing. Google will be in trouble if enough users switch from Google to Bing. It is only possible to bring them back if Microsoft can match Google’s habits before they are formed.
Google will need to have a solution that is comparable on the market quickly enough to prevent the migration of users to Microsoft’s more advanced platform. Google is clearly in a state of panic, but it’s not where it should be. Google’s revenue depends heavily on search, unlike Microsoft, which makes most of its revenue from selling or renting products rather than advertising revenue. It would be painful if it lost its near-monopoly. It would be a big blow.
Google has a strong position in the market, so it is at an advantage. However, with low switching costs, and even after a few weeks, Google could lose a large part of its user base. Bing is so easy to use that it’s hard to prevent users from switching before offering (and not just announcing) a similar feature.
Google could follow the example of Steve Jobs or Apple and disparage generative AI and ChatGPT until it catches on. Google is not a marketing company. This is ironic because advertising is a major source of revenue for Google. It should be good at this. Google, unfortunately, isn’t. Google is not. Even if they were, their history of selling information about users means that FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) would be a bad way to stop Microsoft’s efforts.
Google appears to be triple-screwed. Google doesn’t offer a competing product, doesn’t market effectively to discredit Microsoft’s offering, and is perceived as needing to be more secure. It can’t use security arguments to deter people from using the product.
Wrapping up: Microsoft’s stunning return
Microsoft was a company that could do no wrong when I first started reporting on it in the early 1990s. It crushed Apple, smashed Sun Microsystems, and kicked IBM in the butt. Windows 95 did the impossible when it launched, causing people to be so excited by an operating system that they lined up to purchase it. An operating system!
The century was then over. Microsoft lost dominance in the IE browser and its phone business. It also lost the Xbox. It began rebuilding in the last decade. Azure was a great success; Windows improved dramatically, repaired its damaged reputation, and eliminated some antitrust issues.
In this decade, Microsoft is beginning to resemble the old Microsoft as it takes on Google. Microsoft has the upper hand over Google. Microsoft’s recent performance is a good indicator of how well it executes. Google is now scared that generative AI, ChatGPT, and other technologies are trending positively. This is going to be an interesting decade. Well done!