Bing Chat could soon become a full ChatGPT rival via offline chatbot mode website homepage viewed through a magnifying glass
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Bing Chat will apparently offer users a way to turn off its search engine capabilities so you can use it as a standalone chatbot like ChatGPT.

This may seem strange because Bing Chat is already powered by ChatGPT, but this appears to be the direction Microsoft is moving toward. Tech news site Windows Latest recently tried out the new mode, even claiming it’s just as good as OpenAI’s signature AI model. The website states responses were generated faster with the search integration turned off. However, they noticed the AI would alternate between giving out outdated and up-to-date information depending on the query. 

As a test, Bing Chat was asked what is the latest version of Windows 11, to which it answered by saying version 21H2. This is incorrect as it’s actually version 23H2. This behavior changed when it was asked about the last time Russia invaded Ukraine. The chatbot was able to provide an accurate answer saying the invasion “began in late 2021” and is still ongoing.

This is notable because it suggests that this Bing Chat mode has been trained using recent data. You see, OpenAI trains its models by feeding them large amounts of information, but the data they cover only goes up to a certain date. GPT 3.5 Turbo’s knowledge base, for example, ends in September 2021. Considering the fact that it knows about the Russian invasion, Windows Latest believes this version of Bing Chat is an amalgamation of different AIs. Primarily, GPT 3.5 Turbo and GPT 4

Better performance

Normally in order to provide accurate responses, Bing Chat first surfs the internet to grab the correct info about a topic. Microsoft sources reportedly told Windows Latest there are people who prefer “a faster chatbot” so it’s working on the “no search mode” to meet user demand.

It’s unknown when the “offline mode” will officially launch or how many people will gain access other than it’ll be made “available to a small group of users” first. What is known is it’ll come in the form of a new plugin simply called Search. Turning it off disables the search engine. 

While we’re on the topic, Microsoft also demonstrated support for third-party plugins in the chatbot. These will enhance conversations with Bing Chat by giving it specific directions. One of them is for the popular reservation app OpenTable, which will allow the AI to provide “restaurant recommendations". There are a couple of commerce plugins like Instacart although Windows Latest doesn’t explain what they do. We could only assume they’ll help people with their online shopping.

Analysis: A step back

Do take these claims with a grain of salt. There’s just something about them that sounds off to us. Bing Chat’s whole thing is it's more accurate than ChatGPT. Remove the search engine and you’re left with what is arguably a worse version of OpenAI’s model. Why would people want to use a worse service? Convenience and familiarity might prevent users from switching initially, but how long can that last? 

Hallucinations are a major problem for the tech. Assuming Microsoft decides to go through with this update, it’ll be a big step backward for the tech giant. The trend among other AI brands is to create models that have better accuracy, not worse. 

We’re going to remain skeptical for now. Microsoft is slated to hold its upcoming Ignite event where it’ll reveal “what’s next in [AI] technology” starting on November 15. We expect to see Bing’s offline mode then.

In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best ChatGPT extensions for Chrome.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.