What just happened? Microsoft gave its Edge browser a new tool today called “Copilot.” Copilot is an AI assistant in Edge’s righthand sidebar. It is powered by Bing Chat, which Microsoft still hasn’t fully opened to the public. If you already have access to it, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you will not see these features in your browser.
To open the Copilot sidebar, click the Bing Chat logo in the upper right corner of Edge. Before you can begin, you need to set the bot to one of three options—”precise,” “creative,” or “balanced.” The settings are self-explanatory and will affect Bing’s responses to your queries accordingly.
You should also permit Bing to read the page you are visiting. Allowing this is optional, but if you deny permission, you will miss out on some of the advantages of Copilot. For example, permitting Bing to parse the page allows it to summarize its content.
With the settings out of the way, you can start using Copilot. The Chat tab works as you would expect. Ask a question, and get a plain-language answer. It’s like having Bing Chat right at your fingertips rather than navigating to its website. Of course, remember that sometimes the chatbot is way off the mark, such as when it embarrassingly gave The New York Times terrible advice on pronouncing several Spanish words.
This is even funnier in context. Oh yes. Very detailed, precise, and organized. pic.twitter.com/jgE31TlYcy
— austin walker (@austin_walker) March 14, 2023
The Insights tab is like a shortcut to asking Bing to summarize a webpage, but it’s messy. It takes various keywords from the content and provides links and related information. Its usefulness depends on whether you are looking for an actual summary of the page’s content or want leads to external sites talking more about it. If you want a brief overview, you are better off asking for it in the Chat tab.
Arguably more useful is Copilot’s Compose tab. Users can leverage it to generate a variety of content. After entering a topic or prompt for Bing to write about, users can set several parameters to tailor the material’s scope and tone. Some tone settings include funny, informative, and professional, while the length parameter has long, medium, and short settings. Online News 72h notes that the Copilot produced about 370 words of copy with long selected.
There is also a setting to adjust whether the material is intended to be an email, blog post, paragraph, or just a list of ideas. Again, be careful with what Bing spits out. It’s not always exactly what you want.
“Don’t expect the next great novel or poem,” PCW’s Mark Hachman warned. “Bing’s copy is serviceable, what you might expect from a copywriter or student… Professional writers probably don’t have anything to worry about.”
That said, what Bing produces will be straightforward and “mostly accurate,” Best of all, it only takes a few seconds to generate the content. With some editing, a user could probably produce a single page of a website or essay in a few hours or less.
Copilot could also produce workable cover letters and other correspondence that can be easy to edit but hard to write. Having Bing suggest a list of ideas is also an excellent way to break writer’s block.