Microsoft tells us that its Bing search engine has hit new highs, now with 100 million daily active users.
The news came via a post on Microsoft Bing blogging (opens in new tab) site that observed the difference ChatGPT-powered AI made to Bing traffic in its first month of existence, pushing the number past 100 million for the first time ever.
The company notes that there are more than one million users of the new Bing AI (in preview), and that this has helped the search engine’s numbers reach the new milestone.
Microsoft then goes on to say that a third of the Bing AI’s “millions of active users” are new to Bing, showing that the chatbot directs people to the search engine, although there seems to be an element of confusion here.
Is it a ‘million plus’ users of the AI, or ‘millions’? While those aren’t technically contradictory statements, we don’t see why Microsoft didn’t just call it “millions” in either case, because that clearly sounds like more. A few million, or even a few? Insert shrug here.
In any case, Microsoft also acknowledged the obvious truth that Bing is still far off track compared to Google: “This [100 million] is a surprisingly remarkable number, and yet we are fully aware that we remain a small, low, single-digit stock player. That said, it feels good to be at the dance!”
Analysis: Can this growth be sustained?
Let’s face it: Bing AI is not just another chatbot. It’s a vehicle to help Bing challenge Google, and one that Microsoft hopes will quickly move through the gears to gain momentum.
This isn’t just about chasing market share with the Bing search engine, it’s also a line of attack for the Edge browser, as we’ve already seen with the taskbar implementation of the Bing AI in Windows 11: an icon that links through to the Bing page and open it in Edge.
(Note that after the disappointment over this, and the way Microsoft made it seem like the AI was integrated into the taskbar, rather than just being a link, the Bing icon has disappeared from the search box for now, though ours is told it will return periodically).
Anyway, we can see Microsoft’s plan working so far, with the Bing AI preview successfully recruiting regular users to add to the ranks of Bing searchers – and a good dollop of them – but will continue this state of affairs?
We hesitate. You see, the Bing chatbot is all shiny, new and still very curious at this point. It had some serious appeal to begin with, as you’d expect from new technology, and that interest has continued with measures such as the recent introduction of a trio of personalities to experiment with, as well as several limits Microsoft had previously imposed on chats being lifted.
And there’s no doubt there’s still entertainment to be had by prodding the AI, interacting with it from different angles – humor is inevitably one of them – and generally messing with the chatbot. However, that will not last.
Don’t get us wrong, there will of course be serious users of the Bing bot, but we can imagine a significant portion of the early appeal will come from the curious or naughty.
And in that regard, the first figures are not really a measure of how much impact the ‘new Bing’, as Microsoft calls it, will have. If the growth continues and the AI sharpens and improves significantly in the coming months, we can come back and talk about another wave of adoption for Bing.
Until then, we remain skeptical and our general feeling is that Microsoft has opened its doors too early. We’re not sure the AI will be tuned well enough to seriously impress the way it should for some time, but it’s easy to see why Microsoft was so eager to launch. It needs all the guns it can muster in the fight against Google (and Chrome for that matter), and the latter company is pushing ahead with its own AI technology (Bard).
Through MS Power User (opens in new tab)