If you’ve been hearing about ChatGPT and how its AI knowledgebase is going to revolutionize search, you might be wondering exactly how it’s going to work. Microsoft’s also endlessly improving its Edge browser and if you join the Edge beta program, you’ll get tons of new features and instant access to AI Bing…
While it’s possible that the media has hyped up ChatGPT and the various other tools produced by Open AI and its various competitors in the machine learning space, it’s also true that being able to ask complex and sophisticated queries is new and novel, particularly compared to the usual 1-2 word Bing searches. But it’s all in beta test mode currently, so it’s not tightly and seamlessly integrated. Microsoft has announced that AI will power all of its Office suite and much more, but when?
Simultaneously, the company has an aggressive development cycle for Microsoft Edge, its hugely superior replacement to the much-criticized Internet Explorer. If you’re still using MSIE, well, it’s way past time to upgrade to Edge and enjoy the speed, additional features (there are tons), and greater compatibility with the modern Web!
But it turns out that you can move closer to the cutting edge of Edge development if you’re so inspired and want to be the first person in your office or group to check out the latest and greatest features. Edge has a beta program and you can even decide just how much risk you’re comfortable with on less tested features and capabilities. As a nice bonus, the latest Edge Beta also includes full AI Bing integration. Let’s check it out…
JOIN THE MICROSOFT EDGE BETA TEAM
Signing up for beta releases is free, easy, and doesn’t get in the way of you using your usual non-beta Edge browser: You end up with both versions on your computer. Start by going to edge://settings/help [note: this link will only work if you’re in Edge. Other browsers will complain it’s an unknown site].
That page shows the current Edge version and offers an easy way to update to the latest if you’ve fallen behind tracking the latest production Microsoft Edge. Update if needed first, then scroll down a bit further on this page to see the information about Beta software:
You can see that you not only get to see the newest features, but there’s an entire community of developers and users who talk about the features, lobby for their favorite features from other browsers, and report bugs and unexpected behaviors. Ready to go? Sweet! Click on “Learn more“.
As explained, there are three different channels. If you’re not someone who is used to working with potentially buggy and unstable software, definitely avoid Canary. Not a developer? The Dev channel might not be for you either. But Beta? Once every four weeks a new version shows up with new features and capabilities? That’s what I use and, as a reminder, it’s in addition to your usual, stable Edge browser.
Also, wondering about the origin of the name “Canary”? Think canary in a coal mine. I’ll let you Bing it to find out what it all means. 🙂
Click on the corresponding “Download” link. You’ll have to agree to some terms, most notably that you’re agreeing to work with less stable, less tested software. Kind of the point of a beta channel, really:
Pick your preferred language and “Accept and download” to proceed.
While you’re waiting for it to download you can go to microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/whats-new to see the very latest features added to the beta release:
A completely revamped PDF reader, powered by Adobe Acrobat? Sounds like a winner to me, as does Video Super Resolution, which will have every video played in the browser look crisper. Bring it on!
WELCOME TO MICROSOFT EDGE BETA
The download can take a while, but eventually, you’ll have the new browser fire up and get this great welcome screen:
Since you’re already using Microsoft Edge, I’m not sure why you need to confirm this step but confirm it you must. Click on “Confirm and continue” to proceed.
Now you’re running the beta, as that same About page will confirm:
Notice the “beta” in the About information and the new BETA Edge icon shown too.
AND WHAT ABOUT CHATGPT AI BING?
Far more interestingly, however, is the overall app window because on the right side is a big new Bing dialog button that’s shown up:
You guessed it, that’s the shortcut for AI Bing, the ChatGPT-powered, interactive interface to the AI system that itself is powered by Bing. Click on it and a window shows up on the right side:
That’s it. You can literally ask it anything, from “what’s Tom Cruise’s best movie?” to “how old is stonehenge” to “who started world war I” and it’ll whir away. Not only that, but once you get an answer, you can ask follow-up questions to really dial in the best possible answer. A total game changer for search.
Done with AI Bing for now? Just click on the “B” icon on the toolbar and the window will vanish, ready to be brought forward any time you need it. Darn helpful and that’s just one of the features you’ve gained access to through the beta program.
What’s a new browser without a theme too, right? I picked a new one called Galaxy of Goodies to get a very striking look:
Definitely fun and funky. Having a different theme for the beta browser and your regular Edge browser is a good way to help differentiate which is which too, because they now both show up on the Taskbar:
If you joined the Dev and Canary channels too, I imagine you could have four different versions of Edge on your computer, though that might consume more disk space than you realize. In any case, congrats, you’re now a part of the Microsoft Edge beta program and accessing cool features before anyone else!
Power Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many, many years and have an extensive Windows 11 help library here. Please check it out while you’re visiting. Thanks!