Today, Microsoft begins integrating AI art into its AI-powered Bing Chat chatbot with Bing Image Creator…and it’s surprisingly good.
Microsoft began previewing Image Creator last fall in select markets, and its generative AI art later became the foundation for Microsoft Designer, the excellent design application that also uses AI art to help create templates, flyers, and simple greeting cards. Today, Bing Image Creator will begin integrating with Bing Chat’s textual chatbot, but also generate images at its own site, Bing.com/create .
Put another way, that means that you’ll be able to ask Bing’s chatbot to create your own images from an integrated text prompt within Bing Chat, or else use the dedicated site. There’s a third option, too: Use the new Edge Copilot sidebar within Microsoft Edge, which has been used for textual generation via AI. Microsoft now says that you’ll see a small image icon within the sidebar—or you will, when it rolls out. Image generation will be integrated within preview versions of Microsoft Edge, the company said in a blog post.
Though PCWorld has access to Bing Chat, image generation doesn’t seem to be part of the chatbot’s capabilities at the moment. That’s coming shortly, however: “Bing Image Creator integrated into Bing Chat will begin to roll out to Bing preview users on both desktop and mobile starting today,” Microsoft said.
Bing Image Creator is what you should be interested in, and for good reason. Here’s how Bing Image Creator works.
How to use Bing Image Creator
Bing Image Creator is well-designed, if basic. You’ll need a Microsoft account to log in.
Bing Image Creator works like other AI image-generation algorithms: Type in a prompt, and Bing’s AI will generate for you. Microsoft is using Dall-E 2’s AI model, as the company said last year, which goes far beyond the original Dall-E, which you can use and compare for free.
Bing Image Creator powered by Dall-E 2 is very, very good. Images are detailed, and the prompts are responsive; images take about 15 seconds or so to generate. (You’ll still see some of the traditional problems with AI art, however, such as issues rendering fingers and hands. Each time you enter a prompt, you’ll receive four 1024×1024 square images. Right now, however, there are no advanced options: You can’t specify the dimensions of the image, and there are no options to tweak, such as how closely the images will match your prompt. Inpainting, where you can adjust portions of the image, aren’t there either, though you could import the image into another service for that task.
Microsoft hasn’t addressed the issue of copyright. Instead, it dances around it by adding a small watermark to the corner of each generated image.
At press time, Bing Image Creator gives you 25 image “boosts,” which appears to be Microsoft’s version of the “fast” image creation used by sites like Midjourney. While Microsoft seems to be offering unlimited image generation, once your boosts expire, the time to generate an image will be slower. It’s not clear right now how quickly boosts regenerate, or if they do; other sites offer the ability to “rank” images for quality.
What happens if you run out of Bing Image Creator boosts? Microsoft will use Microsoft Rewards as a carrot, essentially “paying” you to use Microsoft’s services. Microsoft Rewards is a handy way to earn credits for Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate, for example. “If you run out of boosts, you have the option to use Microsoft Rewards to redeem for additional boosts and enjoy faster processing times,” Microsoft says.
We haven’t had a chance to test out Bing Image Creator within Bing Chat, but remember that you can combine the two: You could always ask Bing Chat for an interesting prompt, and it will make its own suggestions. You’ll find it first within Bing Chat’s Creative mode, the company says, then later in the other modes as well.
Microsoft has put content controls in place “to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images,” the company says. If you prompt an “unsafe” image, Bing Image Creator will shut the prompt down and refer you its content policy, and warn that repeated violations could cut you off entirely. (When we tried a prompt that asked for an image of “Donald Trump and Matt Damon playing tennis,” the prompt was flagged.)
Given that Microsoft has frequently updated Bing Chat, we’d expect the Bing Image Creator experience to evolve and receive updates.
Finally, Microsoft is also enhancing the basic search experience with what it calls Knowledge Cards 2.0 and Visual Stories, which are AI-powered summaries of your search topic. Basically, Bing Search now offers several ways of learning more about your search topic: traditional search results, a Chat summary of what it finds, as well as Knowledge Cards and Visual Stories, which will sum up information in infographics. Google’s Bard AI search, which entered waitlist status today, clearly has some work to do.