What just happened? Microsoft today gave its Edge browser a new tool called Copilot. Copilot is an AI assistant in the right sidebar of Edge. It’s powered by Bing Chat, which Microsoft hasn’t fully opened up to the public yet. 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 begin, you’ll need to set the bot to one of three options: “accurate,” “creative,” or “balanced.” The settings are self-explanatory and will affect Bing’s responses to your queries accordingly.
You must also allow Bing to read the page you are visiting. You don’t have to allow this, but if you deny permission, you’ll miss out on some of Copilot’s benefits. For example, allowing Bing to analyze a page allows it to summarize its content.
If you don’t stop the settings, you can start using Copilot. The chat tab works as you would expect. Ask a question and get an answer in plain language. It’s like having Bing Chat at your fingertips instead of navigating to a website. Of course, keep in mind that sometimes the chatbot is way off the mark, like when it embarrassingly gave The New York Times terrible advice on how to pronounce a few Spanish words.
This is even funnier in context. Oh, yes. Very detailed, precise and organized. https://t.co/LoRXz0dlXh pic.twitter.com/jgE31TlYcy
— Austin Walker (@austin_walker) March 14, 2023
The Insights tab looks like a shortcut to asking Bing to summarize a web page, but it’s messy. It takes various keywords from the content and provides links and related information. Its usefulness depends on whether you’re looking for an actual summary of the page’s content, or whether you want external sites to talk more about it. If you want a brief overview, it’s best to ask for it in the Chat tab.
Copilot’s Compose tab is probably more useful. Users can use it to create different content. After entering a writing topic or prompt for Bing, users can set several parameters to customize the content’s scope and tone. Some of the tone settings include fun, informative, and professional, while the length setting has long, medium, and short settings. PCWorld notes that Copilot produced about 370 duplicate words with a long selection.
There’s also a setting to customize whether the piece is meant to be an email, blog post, paragraph, or just a list of ideas. Again, be careful what Bing spits out. It’s not always what you want.
“Don’t wait for the next great novel or poem,” warned PCW chief Mark Hachman. “Bing’s copy is passable, what you might expect from a copywriter or student…Professional writers probably have nothing to worry about.”
That said, what Bing produces will be simple and “mostly accurate.” Best of all, it only takes a few seconds to generate the content. With some editing, a user can probably create a single page of a website or essay in a few hours or less.
Copilot can also create actionable cover letters and other correspondence that can be easy to edit but difficult to write. Having Bing suggest a list of ideas is also a great way to break writer’s block.