Latest Microsoft News: smarter Bing, EU warning, ad-filled ecosystem, new Windows features, and more

February 6, 2023

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The past weeks have been eventful for Microsoft, from its AI efforts to its continuous battle for its proposed Activision megadeal. It also recently released different Windows 11 features, giving Insiders new things to try within the OS, including new widgets for Messenger and Spotify. Here is a quick summary of these stories alongside other recent news.

EU’s Statement of Objections and Activision merger updates

A recent report from Politico revealed that the European Union finally issued its warning to Microsoft over the Activision deal. It was first reported last year. And now that the list has been handed to the company, it should finally get better insights into the specific remedy points it would offer to appease the watchdog. While this seems that the EU is open to concessions, the future of the merger is still a blur, with the FTC and Sony still trying their best to block the deal. In January, sources of Bloomberg revealed that the US antitrust agency and the EU had a call, with the latter expressing the intent to accept concessions. The report suggested that the FTC filed its lawsuit hours after the call to express its disapproval of the said decision and dissuade it from accepting remedies.

Meanwhile, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan met with EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager reportedly met to discuss the merger. No details were divulged, but days later, Frank X. Shaw, lead communications for Microsoft, addressed hearsays about Sony telling Brussels officials that “Microsoft is unwilling to offer them parity for Call of Duty if we acquire Activision.”

Currently, Microsoft reportedly expects the Competition and Markets Authority to oppose the deal though it remains hopeful that both Britain and European regulators will accept concessions.

ChatGPT powering Bing and other Microsoft products

OpenAI’s creations are now the biggest thing for Microsoft. Recently, the company launched its Teams Premium offering, which is said to be powered by ChatGPT, giving it intelligent features. These AI capabilities also extend to Microsoft’s Viva Sales, which can now compose intelligent email responses covering different scenarios, such as inquiry and proposal creation. This intelligent update is soon expected for Bing, which will reportedly use OpenAI’s GPT-4. Over the weekend, some users reported experiencing the new Bing version, which immediately disappeared. According to a Medium blog post by a user named Owen Yin, the said version of Bing he was able to access for a while featured a chat box-looking search bar, encouraging users “to ask questions in a natural way.” The result will be in the form of chatbot conversational results and will cite the sources at the bottom of the reply.

On the other hand, AI integration won’t be unique to Bing in the future. China’s Baidu, Inc., a company specializing and investing heavily in AI and internet services, is reportedly planning to release its own AI chatbot service. The creation would be similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It will be in the form of a standalone application and is expected to be integrated into Baidu’s search engine gradually.

This week, Google is also expected to add some new AI capabilities to its search engine. It will conduct an event on Wednesday in Paris, and it is speculated that it will unveil new AI features for Google there. This is not yet confirmed, but given ChatGPT’s existence as a threat to Google, this is not impossible. And in case it is true, this might have adverse effects on the charm of ChatGPT on Bing. However, will this Google’s technology be sufficient to challenge the current power of the famous ChatGPT?

More Microsoft ads in the future

You might encounter more ads within the Microsoft ecosystem in the future. Aside from the features it is now testing with Insiders that will suggest actions to Windows users, the company has been pushing its Microsoft Store Ads to developers who want to promote their ads. Different Windows 10 users also reported getting pushy ads for Microsoft 365 trial and Windows 11 upgrade recently.

The company is also encouraging users to get the KB5021751 update, which will count the number of outdated Office version users. Though the company promises that the update won’t make changes or installs, this action hints at the possibility that the company is assessing the size of the population it needs to reach to promote the latest version of Office or Microsoft 365 products.

Price Hike

The increase in the price of Xbox products is now confirmed in Japan. The Xbox Series X price will be increased from $422 to $460, while the Xbox Series S price tag will be changed from $248 to $292. These changes will be implemented on February 17 and might be the start of other increases in Xbox prices in other regions, including those in the western markets.

Microsoft 365 and OneDrive integration on ChromeOS

Google announced it would introduce a new Microsoft 365 and OneDrive integration on ChromeOS “later this year.” It will remove the friction in accessing Microsoft 365 and OneDrive using Chromebooks by giving users a more convenient app installation and access to their Chromebook files when using OneDrive.

New Edge and Windows 11 features

Microsoft recently tested some new Windows 11 features in different channels. One of the most prominent features Insiders can now try is the ability to drag File Explorer tabs to open a new window and drag them between windows. In the past weeks, Microsoft also introduced new widgets for Spotify, Phone Link, and Messenger.

As for Edge, Microsoft is working on a new feature that will help users determine the strength of their passwords as they type them on Edge. On its Dev 111.0.1660.0 release, the company also rolled out the new ability allowing users to move all tabs to a new workspace.

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