Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later; we now have an AI-powered search engine, with Microsoft unveiling its new-and-improved Bing, now with ChatGPT integration. I hate to be a naysayer when it comes to new and exciting tech, but I’m just gonna say it: this is garbage, and I’m not going to use it.
Look, I get it. ChatGPT is a phenomenally powerful tool, and AI-assisted searches are very likely the way of the future - as our esteemed Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff correctly assessed in the aftermath of the reveal event. There’s just one problem here: it’s Bing, and nobody likes Bing.
Even Lance had to admit in his article that most of us tend to forget Bing even exists. Does Microsoft even have a search engine? Oh yeah, it does - I remember using it to find and download Chrome so I could never touch it again, like a mafioso ordering a disgraced henchman to dig his own grave.
In fact, I’d go one further - Bing isn’t just forgettable, it’s downright bad. Once you start looking at the competition, it becomes very transparent that Microsoft has cribbed what it can from Google to present a near-identical search engine, but it lacks the tightly-controlled and powerful supporting ecosystem of Google Workspace (formerly known as the G Suite).
Bing doesn’t really have a unique selling point, either - DuckDuckGo has the data security angle locked down, for example. Sure, Bing is the default search engine for Windows 11, but it doesn’t do anything to differentiate itself; Google is the default option for almost every Android device and all the best Chromebooks, an area that this new AI-boosted Bing likely won’t be able to crack.
The future of search engines
If you want to try it out for yourself, you can - and honestly, you might be impressed. ChatGPT is an incredible piece of software, capable of producing well-written responses to specific questions in a way that Google simply can’t. This could be Bing’s big moment, Microsoft’s opportunity to truly set itself apart from the crowd. But it won’t be; because it’s still just Bing.
Even the name sucks. ‘Bing’ - what the heck is a bing? I did some research (using Bing!) into the name, and it was apparently chosen via focus-testing as a short, memorable, easy-to-spell term that also apparently represented the sound of ‘the moment of discovery and decision-making’, whatever that means. Google’s name, by comparison, comes from the mathematical term ‘googol’, which is a really, really big number to represent the sheer volume of search results Google can offer.
Here we arrive at the crux of the issue; the fatal mistake that Microsoft has made, the missed opportunity that I believe will result in Bing remaining perpetually in Google’s shadow. After all, Google is hard at work on its own AI search technology, so this likely won’t remain Bing’s unique feature for long.
So, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, I am now speaking directly to you. I have the solution to your Bing problem (namely, the fact that nobody likes Bing). The plan is simple: we kill Bing.
Bing already has one foot in the grave - let's give it a push
No, I’m not talking about a Tarantino-style search engine murder spree. Microsoft should give it the ‘Liam Neeson in Batman Begins’ treatment, and simply let it die. It might be the second-most-popular search engine globally, but it sits much closer to the likes of Yahoo and Baidu, with Google still holding the vast majority of market share.
But if Bing is laid to rest, what about this exciting new AI chat search tool? Well, here’s the clever bit, Mr Nadella: you give it a new name. Forget Bing - Bing’s dead, baby, Bing’s dead. ChatGPT is new and exciting, so it’s time for a new and exciting rebrand for Microsoft’s search engine.
Microsoft had a chance here to shrug off people’s preconceived notions about Bing being ‘Google but worse’, but fumbled the bag. If it’s still called Bing, it’ll still be the butt of many a techy joke. ChatGPT is being integrated into Microsoft Edge, too - and like Bing, it’s not going to draw in tons of new users because Edge is still widely disregarded by modern tech users in favor of browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox.
Microsoft wants to usher in a new dawn of AI-powered software, which is great! Well, it’s not all great, but it does at least have the potential to be great. But shackling this fascinating new technology to the tired old Bing branding is a huge mistake that could kneecap Microsoft’s AI efforts before they even begin.
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Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.
Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.