In addition to today’s launch of OpenAI’s GPT-4, which is now confirmed to be the GPT model running in Bing, Microsoft also announced the stable version of its Edge web browser will now include the new Bing AI chatbot in a sidebar. The feature was first introduced at Microsoft’s AI press event in February but was previously only available as a developer preview, not a public release.
With today’s official unveiling of GPT-4, Microsoft is shipping the feature, which it calls the “Edge Copilot,” in the stable version of its Microsoft Edge browser.
The update reimagines the concept of the sidebar, which previously hosted Edge’s “Discover” feature to provide users with context about the page they’re visiting. Now the new sidebar will offer an AI chatbot instead.
When users want to interact with the sidebar and the AI features, they’ll just hover over the Bing icon in the toolbar to open the sidebar. When not in use, the sidebar can be automatically hidden.
While open, users can take advantage of the Edge Copilot, the AI feature that’s capable of providing “intelligent suggestions and insights based on the context of the web page and the user’s goals,” Microsoft says.
As the company explained at its event, the AI chatbot had two main functionalities at launch — chat and compose. Together, these can help users do things like summarize lengthy web content, run comparisons or even create content in some cases.
For example, one of Microsoft’s demos had shown the AI summarizing a company’s financial statements — but unfortunately, it got the numbers wrong, it was later revealed. In another, a developer asked the AI to write a snippet of code while researching tips on Stack Overflow. The AI was able to convert Python code to Rust. Microsoft even demonstrated the AI writing a LinkedIn post after a few prompts were given.
Today, the company suggests that the AI Copilot could also be used to help users write better emails, search the web faster and learn new skills.
The productivity angle to AI has not been lost on the competition. Today, Google unveiled how it’s incorporating AI into its own productivity solution, Workspace. Its plan involves incorporating generative AI within every part of Workspace, including helping users write emails in Gmail, write and edit documents in Docs, generate formulas in Sheets, capture notes in Meet and create text, images, audio, and video in Slides. Microsoft is expected to detail its answer to Google’s move later this week.
While the sidebar is the most anticipated new Edge feature, it may be locked down by IT admins. Microsoft notes admins will be able to control whether or not users have access to the sidebar in Edge at all — an important consideration, given that some companies, including Walmart and Amazon, now have policies against sharing confidential company information with ChatGPT and other AI bots.
The AI sidebar isn’t the only new feature coming to Edge with this release, however.
The company also says it’s rolling out a new experience to the Microsoft 365 tab of the Edge Enterprise new tab page. This will now include a larger version of the Microsoft Feed, which includes more productivity content and moves cards with important emails, recent SharePoint sites, upcoming events, and to-do items over to the right-hand side of the tab.
Additionally, the browser will ship various security mode improvements and will support a new policy that controls whether or not the user’s browsing history is deleted when the browser app is exited.
Microsoft says the stable version of its Edge web browser will roll out progressively over one or more days. The browser is available for both Windows and Mac platforms.