Did Microsoft just open the floodgates?

Waitlist Begone

The floodgates have officially opened.

According to Windows Central, Microsoft's chatty, AI-powered search feature — you know, the one that tried to break up a New York Times writer's marriage, named its enemies, and threatened users that provoked it, among a few other things — is now open for general use.

The feature was formerly available to just a limited number of users, who had previously joined a waitlist. And though Microsoft still prompts users to sign up for that waitlist, the barrier that was in place now appears to be moot; moments after a Microsoft user adds their name, they're granted immediate access to the revamped Bing via email.

While some netizens appear to be having trouble cruising past the waitlist for the chat feature while on the web, downloading the Bing mobile app appears to be an especially expedient means of accessing the chatbot feature.

The jury's still out, however, on whether Microsoft actually did this on purpose.

Shrug Emoji

When asked if the waitlist protections had been intentionally lifted, Microsoft hit The Verge with an incredibly vague statement.

"During this preview period, we are running various tests which may accelerate access to the new Bing for some users," Microsoft communications director Caitlin Roulston told the Verge. "We remain in preview and you can sign up at Bing.com."

A perfect non-answer. Moving on.

Timing is Everything

Though the AI chatbot has had a tumultuous start, Microsoft has been making some in-real-time changes — read: lobotomization — to the GPT-4-powered web app, making it somewhat less vulnerable to prompt injections and jailbreaking attempts.

And speaking of GPT-4: seeing as how it's finally been confirmed that the next-gen OpenAI tech has been secretly powering Bing Chat for months, this Microsoft maybe-glitch might just be a very clutch means of trying the tech out for yourself — without having to pay $20 monthly for OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus subscription.

To be clear, the Bing AI and GPT-4 aren't exactly the same product, but we're just trying to help the people out, you know?

But regardless of whether this was a mistake or not, it's certainly interesting for it to occur now, as Microsoft is set to unveil its new OpenAI-integrated Office Suite later today.

In other words, it's one hell of a time for Microsoft to be — as Roulston put it — "running tests."

READ MORE: You can play with Microsoft's Bing GPT-4 chatbot right now, no waitlist necessary [The Verge]

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