Microsoft’s latest Edge 111 browser has a new built-in tool: Edge Copilot, which takes the AI-powered Bing Chat assistant and turns it into a butler.
By now, you should be somewhat familiar with Bing Chat: The AI chatbot that Microsoft released in early February is rolling out to Windows 11, even after a series of early experiments that saw Bing become something of an oddity, or worse. . Then Microsoft set out to make Bing Chat less crazy by limiting responses.
But put that aside for a moment. Found in the Bing sidebar that accompanies some of the latest Edge releases, Edge Copilot includes Bing Chat. However, its design emphasizes Bing as a content creation tool, a theme we expect Microsoft to expand on further at the “Future of Work” AI event on Thursday. In addition to Bing Chat, there’s also a “Compose” and “Insights” tab that uses AI to create and learn more about what you’re looking at.
Edge 111 also features a “new tab” feature for business users. Instead of seeing the various new features powered by Microsoft’s Start content service, you’ll see a larger, more comprehensive version of Microsoft Feed. (The Feed refers to the content that Microsoft’s other algorithms show you, covering everything from relevant documents to content created by Viva’s employer.) However, Microsoft did not confirm that its AI-powered Edge video scaler has been released; remains in beta version.
To update Microsoft Edge to Edge 111, open the “ellipsis” menu in the top right corner, scroll down to settingsand then go to About Microsoft Edge on the next screen. Edge will automatically update to the latest version. Now, let’s take a closer look at Edge Copilot, what it does, and what it can do for you.
What is Microsoft Edge Copilot?
You won’t see Edge Copilot right away, and maybe not at all. Edge Copilot works with Bing Chat, and there is still a waiting list as of this writing. If you don’t have access, you won’t see any of the new features below.
In any case, Edge Copilot is hidden by what appears to be the new Bing Chat logo: the “b” for Bing contained within a speech bubble. Click on it and the Edge sidebar will open.
You will need to decide on two configurations before you begin. First, whether to set Bing Chat to “accurate”, “creative” or “balanced”, though asking for creativity will hurt Bing’s accuracy, for now. You’ll also need to agree (or decline) to allow Bing to “read” the page in the browser you’re viewing, so that it can digest its content.
The simplest and most accessible tab is Chat. This is Bing Chat, where you can ask a question, request a riddle, or any of the topics and tasks that Bing can do. Interestingly, Edge Copilot’s chat feature has a different user interface than Bing Chat. For one, there’s no “traffic light” icon indicating how many questions or interactions you can have. (In Bing Chat, Microsoft limited the number of interactions you can have before having to “start over,” erasing Bing’s knowledge of the previous conversation.) Just remember that Bing Chat can “hallucinate” ideas or facts that may not be true. so be a little careful how you use it.
The third tab, “Insights,” should be where you’ll find the other key feature that Copilot offers: the ability to summarize the content of a page, such as a long academic article or blog post. Unfortunately, the Copilot Insights tab offers a grab bag of not particularly useful information, such as a link to the Wikipedia page that describes it, approximate traffic and references to the page, etc. (You can ask Bing Copilot to summarize the page, but the easiest way I found is to do it from the “Chat” tab. Just tell Edge Copilot to summarize the current page and you’ll be greeted with a paragraph or two explaining it all.)
In a way, the “Compose” tab is the most unique and interesting feature that Edge Copilot offers. This is AI generated content; At the top of the page, an input box invites you to enter the topic that Edge Copilot will write about. The other options describe the tone (professional, funny, informative, etc.) and the format (email, blog post, generic paragraph, or list of ideas). You can then generate the relative length (short, medium, or long – a long answer produced a 370 word copy) and then ask it to generate a draft.
Don’t wait for the next great novel or poem. Bing’s copy is helpful, which you might expect from a copywriter or student, and that’s not really a criticism either. Professional writers probably have nothing to worry about. But Bing is concise, mostly accurate, and most of all, virtually instantaneous, taking only a few seconds to generate a response. While I wouldn’t ask you to write a story under my byline, it doesn’t hurt to ask you for a list of ideas on a certain topic. At the very least, a bad idea generated by Bing can generate a good, original thought.
Use it enough and you start to see the kind of things that Bing (or a competing product, like Canva’s Magic Write) might be good for: a cover letter summarizing your resume? A conciliatory email from a customer service agent? An executive summary of a complicated proposal? You can raise objections to each of these, but there is arguably more and more content that is needed, largely ignored, vetted, or even filtered by another AI or algorithm. That’s where you’ll find value in Bing, Edge Copilot, and other AI services.