For years Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Edge web browser has been in the shadow of Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google. After several major rebrands, the most recent of which was in 2020, Microsoft announced yesterday an artificial intelligence (AI) gamechanger to catapult their services into relevancy – the only problem is, Google announced one too.

Working with ChatGPT sensation OpenAI, Microsoft is betting the future of their company in AI through billions of dollars of investment.

ChatGPT took the world by storm when it went public late last year – giving users human-like responses to any prompt. It has opened up a world of possibilities throughout the industry, giving people new ways to think about how it would help in marketing, search engines, copywriting, fact-checking, and more.

“This technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella told reporters in a briefing at the company’s headquarters in Washington.

Microsoft said they’re harnessing this technology by putting an intelligent chatbot alongside Bing’s search results, allowing users to use AI to compose emails, summarise web pages, and more, according to Reuters.

The basis for the new Bing promises to be a step above ChatGPT’s answers too, as it will be informed by real-time web data from the search engine. Microsoft has named the technology the Prometheus model.

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“Microsoft does have a window now to be a bigger player in the consumer tech space, starting with its chatbot assistant embedded with Bing,” Gartner analyst Jason Wong said.

Google not going down without a fight

Of course, Google wasn’t going to just let Microsoft have all the limelight on Monday and decided to reveal their own AI chatbot – Google Bard.

Google’s answer to ChatGPT will also be working in the background of its world-renowned search engine, generating a short text summary for search queries, instead of just an index of links.

The software will be based off Google’s pre-existing product LaMDA, standing for Langugage Model for Dialogue Application – a longer way of saying chatbot software.

“As people turn to Google for deeper insights and understanding, AI can help us get to the heart of what they’re looking for,” Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai said on Tuesday.

“We’re starting with AI-powered features in Search that distil complex info into easy-to-digest formats so you can see the big picture then explore more.”

Can Bing really rival Google?

Google really is the reigning king of the search engine business. Bing had just a 3% share of search engine usage compared to Google’s 92% in January, according to data from StatCounter.

“I think it is unlikely an AI-powered Bing homepage can genuinely take away from Google’s dominant market share in the long term,” Tom Bestwick, content marketing and pr executive at Hallam, told Verdict.

Bestwick believes that Bing will benefit from being in the right place at the right time but that long-term usage will ultimately come down to preference and accessibility.

“What we have seen with AI’s growing presence in search and marketing is an immediate interest and uptake,” Bestwick added, “in the short term, Bing will benefit from that buzz.”

“But Google’s response to now officially launch their own AI tool – Bard – will only see Google’s dominance continue.

“Bard is going to be a far more sophisticated answer to ChatGPT, with years of work being ploughed into it while it will be fed more up-to-date content.

“Once both platforms are in the wild, long-term user preference will boil down to experience. Namely which tool is more user-friendly and provides a better search experience.”

Josh Wilkinson, Reactive PR executive at digital marketing agency The Audit Lab, also doesn’t feel Bing is going to threaten Google anytime soon.

“I don’t think this innovation from Microsoft will end up threatening Google’s dominance over the search engine market,” Wilkinson told Verdict.

“While I’m sure Bing will see an influx of users flocking to check out the new tech, I think it will take a while for people to see the AI integration as something more than a gimmick, by which time Google will have released their own version that will have built upon the innovations launched by Bing.”

Google and Microsoft have not responded to Verdict’s request for comment.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publication.