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Microsoft Build 2023: Five interesting announcements

From bringing Bing to ChatGPT to a new look for Microsoft Edge, the tech giant has announced some key updates at Microsoft Build 2023

Executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella during a keynote address.
Executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella during a keynote address. ((Microsoft press image))

Earlier this month, Google at its annual developer conference, Google I/O announced its new hardware lineup, including the Google Pixel Tablet, Pixel Fold and the Pixel 7a and a new large language model, PaLM2 among other big updates. 

This week, another tech giant, Microsoft, which has been in an Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovation race with Google in recent months, unveiled powerful updates during the much-awaited Microsoft Build 2023 event.

Similar to Google I/O, Microsoft Build is all about announcements on new features and products, as well as providing in-depth sessions for developers to understand Microsoft’s programs and tools. The 2023 event is being held in person – after a gap of four years – in Seattle, US. This year’s focus has been —you guessed it — on AI. From new AI integrations to Windows to new generative AI announcements, Microsoft, like Google, is riding high on the AI wave.

Also read: Google to reveal AI and Pixel innovations at annual event

The first day started with a keynote speech by CEO Satya Nadella who shared insights about the new era of AI, joined by Kevin Scott and OpenAI’s Greg Brockman. Here's a look at some other interesting updates announced so far from the ongoing event.

Bringing Bing to ChatGPT

Microsoft has announced that Bing will be integrated into OpenAI's ChatGPT as the default search experience. In recent months, one of the issues with ChatGPT was the lack of updated information as its data was limited to 2021. By bringing Bing to ChatGPT, Microsoft and OpenAI aim to enable the chatbot to provide timelier and more up-to-date answers with access from the web, according to a blog post by Microsoft.

The answers provided by the chatbot will be based on search and web data and include citations — all directly from within the chat, according to a Microsoft Bing blog post. The new feature has been rolled out for ChatGPT Plus subscribers starting 23 May and will be available to free users soon by simply enabling a plugin.

Two other key updates to Bing include: a new plugin for partners such as Expedia, Kayak and TripAdvisor to enable the chatbot to make relevant recommendations based on your conversation as well as the expanded integration of Bing Chat across Microsoft’s copilots. 

For developers, this means that they can now use one platform to build and submit plugins that work across consumer and business surfaces, including ChatGPT, Bing, Dynamics 365 Copilot, Microsoft 365 Copilot, and Windows Copilot, the blogpost adds. 

Furthermore, Bing Chat will be integrated into Windows Copilot and Microsoft Edge, making it easier for users to get personalised answers and relevant suggestions.

A new look for Microsoft Edge

Microsoft has announced a fresh look and feel for its browser, Microsoft Edge, with new AI capabilities. It is focused on making the browsing experience simple and increasing efficiency. Drawing from the “modern elegance of Windows 11 with its rounded corners, translucent backgrounds, and fluid animations”, the tech giant has created the new design, according to a new blog post by Microsoft. 

It has a modular system, designed to help users easily differentiate between browser content generated by Microsoft Edge and webpage content, according to the post. It also allows the browser UI to be more fluid and customisable. You can now find your profile on the top left corner of your browser window. This change aims to improve visibility and access.

Moreover, Microsoft Edge will now have a dedicated work experience with its own visual elements, including an adjusted icon, your organization’s name, and other visual cues, according to the post. This is called Microsoft Edge for Business. This also addresses the issues faced during the popular hybrid work model. For instance, people want to keep their personal data such as browsing history private while organisations want to maintain their security stance. To address this, Microsoft’s new browser model will enhance users’ privacy while maintaining crucial controls set at the organisational level, the post explains.

AI comes to Windows 11

Microsoft has introduced Windows Copilot, making Windows 11 the first PC platform to announce centralized AI assistance, according to Microsoft’s Panos Panay, chief product officer, Windows and Devices, who explained the feature in a blog post. Introducing Copilot to Windows 11 is aimed at upping the experience for users. For instance, now users can ask Windows Copilot to rewrite, summarize or explain your content.

Bing Chat plugins will also be extended to Windows, to enable developers to integrate their apps within Windows Copilot. With Bing and ChatGPT plugins in Windows Copilot, users will have access to augmented AI capabilities and experiences, the post explains. Microsoft is also introducing Dev Home to help increase developers’ productivity on Windows. The Microsoft Store on Windows will also now have new AI features and experiences.

Microsoft Fabric

The tech company has also unveiled Microsoft Fabric, an “end-to-end, unified analytics platform that brings together all the data and analytics tools that organizations need”, Arun Ulagaratchagan, corporate vice-president, of Azure Data, said in a blog post. Fabric integrates technologies like Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI into a single unified product.

It aims to address every aspect of a company’s analytics need along with supporting each team in the analytics process with role-specific experiences. Fabric is also powered by AI and is integrated with Copilot so users can use conversational language to create dataflows and data pipelines, generate code and entire functions, build machine learning models, or visualise results, the post adds.

Jugalbandi chatbot

Jugalbandi — which translates to a duet between two musicians — is a new generative AI-driven chatbot on mobiles aimed to make information on government schemes accessible in multiple languages in India. This is supported by an Indian research group backed by Microsoft and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, according to a Reuters report.

This bot uses language models from government-backed AI4 Bharat and AI tech through Microsoft's Azure OpenAI Service. The bot operates on Meta Platforms-owned WhatsApp and can understand questions in 10 Indian languages and retrieves information written in English on government websites to convey messages in local languages.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also read: Week in tech: Google I/O 2023, human pangenome and a new Twitter CEO

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