Microsoft said Tuesday that it will start promoting its new Bing chatbot — which draws on startup OpenAI’s artificial intelligence capabilities — in an update to Windows 11.
Bing is not hugely popular, but Windows drives 9% of Microsoft’s revenue. It’s the world’s leading operating system, with about 82% share as of 2021. Adding a link to the refreshed Bing next to the familiar Start button is a big step forward for technology that’s at times proven to be inaccurate or offensive.
The gesture might help Microsoft challenge Google, which earlier this month permitted “trusted testers” to try its Bard chatbot that could rival Bing’s new ability to answer queries with web information.
“It’s a new day in search,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during the event just three weeks ago at which Microsoft revealed the new Bing. “It’s a new paradigm in search. Rapid innovation is going to come.”
After entering a query into the search portion of the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, a user will see search results and a new chat button. Clicking that button will open an Edge browser window and prompt the Bing chatbot to respond to the person’s query, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email.
The new Bing option is only becoming a regular fixture of Windows 11, which Microsoft released in 2021. Support for Windows 10 ends in 2025, and many people have not upgraded yet. In January, about 69% of Windows PCs were still running Windows 10, and 18% were on Windows 11, according to estimates from StatCounter.
Not everyone will be able to see the chat button in Windows 11 at first. Microsoft has given more than 1 million people access to the new Bing, a small number compared with the estimated 100 million people who used OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot in January.
In time, the taskbar change might drive higher use of the updated Bing. More than 500 million people use the Windows search box each month, Microsoft’s product chief, Panos Panay, wrote in a blog post.
Bing has been available from the Windows taskbar for years, and Microsoft generates revenue when ads appear in search results after people type in certain queries. Heavier use of the updated Bing could bring financial upside. Microsoft would gain $2 billion in additional revenue for every percentage point of revenue it picks up in the search-advertising market, Amy Hood, the company’s finance chief, said on Feb. 7.
Jefferies surveyed 900 consumers about the new Bing, and of the 127 who had tried it, 86% said they were impressed or very impressed, but just 17% said they would make Bing their new default search engine, according to a Monday note to clients.
People with Windows 11 PCs on version 22H2 can request the new version with the more intelligent Bing and the other additions by opening the Windows Update section of the Settings app and clicking the “Check for updates” button, Panay wrote in the blog post.
WATCH: The real reason GOOGL is at a disadvantage vs. Microsoft in the A.I. race