Microsoft’s advanced conversational AI chatbot, Bing Chat, is undergoing significant changes designed to enhance user accessibility and improve the overall user experience. The recent developments revolve around two main areas: expanded browser compatibility and increased chat turn limits.
Expanding Browser Compatibility
One of the most significant changes is the extension of Bing Chat support to non-Microsoft browsers. Previously, Microsoft had restricted Bing Chat to its own Microsoft Edge web browser. The company hoped that the exclusivity of Chat to Edge would encourage users to switch to their browser, despite it having a relatively smaller market share—5.32% worldwide and 9.94% on desktop platforms. This limitation, however, significantly restricted Bing Chat’s potential user base.
In late May 2023, Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s head of Advertising and Web Services, revealed that Microsoft was initiating experiments to enable Bing Chat on third-party browsers. As of June 2023, Bing Chat has begun to appear on some non-Microsoft browsers for select users. The specifics of the browsers involved and the timeline for a full rollout were not disclosed. However, users could potentially gain access to Bing Chat on their preferred browser by changing their browser’s useragent, confirming that the Edge restriction was a strategic choice by Microsoft, not a technical one.
The move to expand browser compatibility could significantly increase Bing Chat’s user base. With Google Chrome holding over 62% of the worldwide browser market share and Safari following with 20.7%, allowing Bing Chat on these platforms could reach a larger audience.
Increasing Chat Turn Limits
Microsoft has also updated the chat turn limits for Bing Chat. A “turn” refers to an input from a user and the AI’s corresponding response. Microsoft has increased the limit to 30 turns per session and 300 turns per day, up from the previous limit of 5 turns per session and 50 per day. This change applies to all conversations in a user’s chat history, enabling users to resume conversations where they might have hit their turn limit.
The increase in turn limits was a response to user feedback calling for longer chats. Microsoft initially set stricter limits due to unforeseen behavior and use cases during internal testing. However, the feedback from users showed a clear desire for more comprehensive searches and more interactive engagement with the chat feature.
One notable limitation that remains is the requirement of a Microsoft Account to use Chat. This requirement, combined with the initial restriction to the Edge browser, may have contributed to a perceived stagnation in Bing Chat usage. Will the company open up Bing Chat to people without requiring a Microsoft account? Let’s wait and see.
What’s good though is this: the recent changes demonstrate a commitment to improving Bing Chat’s accessibility and user experience. The decision to extend support to non-Microsoft browsers and increase chat turn limits shows a responsiveness to user feedback and a dedication to optimising the service. As Bing Chat continues to evolve, the impact of these changes on user engagement and the service’s overall success will be closely watched.