UPDATED 11:30 EST / JULY 18 2023


Microsoft launches Bing Chat Enterprise with full protection for sensitive corporate data

Microsoft Corp. said today it’s expanding the capabilities of its new, artificial intelligence-powered Bing chat engine to the workplace with the launch of Bing Chat Enterprise.

The new tool leverages the same generative AI technology behind ChatGPT to bring a more conversational search experience to enterprise workers. Announced at Microsoft’s annual partner conference Ignite, Bing Chat Enterprise is an enterprise-grade version of the popular AI-powered chat tool that was first launched in February. Available in preview now, it incorporates some special features to ensure sensitive business data is always protected.

Bing Chat has proven immensely popular since its launch. It’s powered by OpenAI LP’s GPT-4 large language model, which makes it capable of understanding natural language inputs from users in a multitude of languages. It can respond conversationally to almost any kind of query.

This unique capability provides a highly differentiated search experience compared to something like Google Search. Instead of entering a standard text-based search, users can simply talk to the chatbot about what they’re looking for in a more conversational way.

In a blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer chief marketing officer, and Jared Spataro, corporation vice president of modern work and business Applications, said enterprises are keen to engage with more AI tools at work but wary of putting sensitive information at risk.

“Using AI tools that aren’t built for the enterprise inadvertently puts sensitive business data at risk,” they wrote. “As organizations adopt AI, they want to be confident their data is protected.”

Bing Chat Enterprise provides additional commercial data protection tools to ensure that all user and business data remains protected and secure at all times, and will never be leaked outside of the organization. None of the chat data is saved, and Microsoft cannot access individual chats either, meaning no one can view any data that’s shared with it, the company said.

Microsoft said Bing Chat Enterprise has dozens of possible use cases, helping employees to research industry insights and trends, analyzing data or looking for inspiration. As with the regular version of Bing Chat, the Enterprise edition is grounded in web data and provides citations with each response it generates. It can also create visual answers for users, including charts, graphs and images.

Best of all, Microsoft said Bing Chat Enterprise is being rolled out to all Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium users starting today at no extra cost. In future, it will also be offered as a standalone service for $5 per user per month, Microsoft said.

Microsoft 365 Copilot pricing announced

Microsoft is enabling more chatlike experiences for enterprises with the coming launch of its Microsoft 365 Copilot service, which was announced in March. Available in all Microsoft 365 applications, such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, Copilot unlocks the power of generative AI for workers of all shapes and sizes. According to the company, it enables an entirely new way of AI-assisted working, with users able to ask questions any time they need to know something.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is still in preview for now, but the company provided an update today, saying it will cost $30 per user per month when it becomes broadly available. It’ll be the same price for all users, no matter if they’re subscribed to Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard or Business Premium edition.

The Copilot tool will integrate a similar experience to Bing Chat inside Microsoft’s most widely used business applications, and of course security is a paramount concern. Mehdi and Spataro reiterated that Copilot inherits the user’s existing security, privacy, identity and compliance policies, and ensures all data is logically isolated and protected within their Microsoft 365 tenant, so it will always remain strictly under their control.

Microsoft said Copilot has already been adopted by more than 600 enterprise customers worldwide through its early access program.

According to analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc., the widespread availability of such a powerful AI-based assistant will be extremely useful for knowledge workers and have a hugely positive impact on the future of work.

“We now know the price tag for Microsoft 365 Copilot, which will cost $30 per user per month,” he said. “Considering the productivity gains it provides, offering perhaps 2-3 hours of time savings per month, it’s a very reasonable price. But it also shows us how expensive Microsoft’s investments in generative AI have been, and how important it will be for future revenue growth. The next question is when will Copilot become available in more languages besides English?”

Bing Chat gains visual search capabilities

In a final AI-focused update, Microsoft said the consumer-grade version of Bing Chat is getting more visual capabilities with the launch of its Visual Search feature. The new feature means users can now upload images and have Bing Chat search the entire internet for related content. Alternatively, users can prompt Bing Chat to tell them about the image.

“Bing can understand the context of an image, interpret it, and answer questions about it,” Mehdi and Spataro wrote. “Whether you’re traveling to a new city on vacation and asking about the architecture of a particular building or at home trying to come up with lunch ideas based on the contents of your fridge, upload the image into Bing Chat and use it to harness the web’s knowledge to get you answers.”

Visual Search in Bing is being rolled out now for both desktop and mobile users, and will come to Bing Chat Enterprise at a later date.

Images: Microsoft

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