Google’s AI plans hit a snag as it reportedly delays next-gen ChatGPT rival

Development on Google’s Gemini AI is apparently going through a rough patch as the LLM (large language model) has reportedly been delayed to next year.

This comes from tech news site The Information whose sources claim the project will not see a November launch as originally planned. Now it may not arrive until sometime in the first quarter of 2024, barring another delay. The report doesn’t explain exactly why the AI is being pushed back. Google CEO Sundar Pichai did lightly confirm the decision by stating the company is “focused on getting Gemini 1.0 out as soon as possible [making] sure it’s competitive [and] state of the art”. That said, The Information does suggest this situation is due to ChatGPT's strength as a rival.

Since its launch, ChatGPT has skyrocketed in popularity, effectively becoming a leading force in 2023’s generative AI wave. Besides being a content generator for the everyday user, corporations are using it for fast summarization of lengthy reports and even building new apps to handle internal processes and projections. It’s been so successful that OpenAI has had to pause sign-ups for ChatGPT Plus as servers have hit full capacity.

Plan of attack

So what is Google’s plan moving forward? According to The Information, the Gemini team wants to ensure “the primary model is as good as or better than” GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest model. That is a tall order. GPT-4 is multimodal meaning it can accept video, speech, and text to launch a query and generate new content. What’s more, it boasts overall better performance when compared to the older GPT-3.5 model, now capable of performing more than one task at a time.

For Gemini, Google has several use cases in mind. The tech giant plans on using the AI to power new YouTube creator tools, upgrade Bard, plus improve Google Assistant. So far, it has managed to create mini versions of Gemini “to handle different tasks”, but right now, the primary focus is getting the main model up and running. 

It also plans to court advertisers with their AI as advertising is “Google’s main moneymaker.” Company executives have reportedly talked about using Gemini to generate ad campaigns, including text and images. Videos could come later, too.

Bard upgrade

Google is far from out of the game, and while the company is putting a lot of work into Gemini, it's still building out and updating Bard

First, if you’re stuck on your math homework, Bard will now provide step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem, similar to Google Search. All you have to do is ask the AI or upload a picture of the question. Additionally, the platform can create charts for you by using the data you enter into the text prompts. Or you can ask it to make a smiley face like we did.

Google Bard's new chart plot feature

(Image credit: Future)

If you want to know more about this technology, we recommend learning about the five ways that ChatGPT is better than Google Bard (and three ways it isn't).

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Microsoft delays one of Windows 11’s most promising new features due to bugs

Microsoft has pulled back on an upcoming upgrade to the video casting feature in Windows 11 due to reported bugs. The new feature was temporarily available to Windows Insiders, members of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program who get to test upcoming additions, and has been dropped from the latest Windows 11 preview. 

Many users will be familiar with video casting features if you use something like Chromecast, or if you go back even further back in time, you might remember using HDMI cables to connect your computer to your TV. This allows you to choose and control media on your computer (or device) and see it on your TV screen, for example, to see it better or share it with others.

The removal of the feature was discovered in an update released on October 19, known as Windows 11 Preview Build 22635.2486, via the Windows Insider Program’s Beta Channel (one of four preview channels through which Microsoft releases previews). If users choose to upgrade to this preview build, they will find that it lacks the casting experience that Microsoft is in the process of testing. The casting feature was first added to Build 22631.2129 back in August of this year, and Windows Central writes that it’s been explicitly disabled by Microsoft while it carries out fixes on bugs and improves the feature.

Windows Central goes on to quote Microsoft apparently planning to switch the casting feature back on in a future Beta Channel release. 

Highlights of the new preview build

That’s the main development of note in this current update and it doesn’t introduce any major new features overall. Other notable changes include that the Xbox Game Bar now shows up just as ‘Game Bar’ in the Start menu, and system components showing up under a ‘System’ label in the Start menu. The latter should make system components easier to identify and find, and should show up as ‘System’ in the All apps display (once you open the Start menu). The Game Bar will also show up under Settings > System > Apps > Installed apps, and will apparently update via the Microsoft Store.

Some more minor fixes address crash-related issues with the Start menu being affected by language settings and taskbar glitches that were causing problems with the search function. 

Windows Central writes that dropping the upgraded video casting feature is for a “good reason,” even though it temporarily reduces Windows 11’s functionality. I can see why Microsoft is taking its time to get this one right. Chromecast is an extremely popular and beloved feature in Google Chrome and Google devices that’s existed for years, so if Microsoft wants to compete, the feature has to be slick and function reasonably well. If Microsoft wants users to adopt its cast feature in the same way, it has to prove its worth.

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Confusion, errors and delays: what’s really going on with Google Bard?

The AI chatbot race has begun in earnest – but one participant has already seemingly stumbled out of the gate: Google Bard. In the excitement and flurry of ChatGPT, Microsoft’s updated Bing, and others, Google announced that it will be participating with its own Artificial Intelligence offering, Bard, but an underwhelming launch event, followed by  some mixed messaging, has left the search giant scrambling to catch up.

Microsoft debuted the newly ChatGPT-equipped Bing last month as an additional Bing Search feature. This is likely to try and capitalize on the impressive user sign-up numbers to OpenAI’s own ChatGPT tool, and drive users in the direction of Bing, as opposed to, say, Google.

Understandably, Google announced its own candidate – Google Bard. Now, leaked internal discussions at Google have offered some more insight into what Google Bard is supposed to be.  According to an audio recording of a meeting with Google execs acquired by CNBC, it’s currently being developed as something other than specifically a search assistant tool. This is a notable difference from how it was first presented, including in Google’s own video of a demo – which did not inspire the greatest confidence in Google Bard after it returned incorrect information during the demo.

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Confused messaging

This initial roll-out and subsequent internal messaging are somewhat at odds. In the above-mentioned meeting, executives answered questions from Google’s internal forum, most of which had to do with Bard. The product lead for Bard, Jack Krawczyk, answered one of these questions, which asked if search is the most appropriate purpose for tools such as Bard and ChatGPT. 

This is a valid question because while they are large language text models (LLMs) that produce convincing and relatable human-sounding text, they do not ensure that their output is fact-based. 

Jack Krawczyk responded with “Bard is not search.” He elaborated that Bard is an experimental product, and is more of a “sparkplug for imagination,” to help “explore your curiosity.” He did add that Google could not stop users from using Bard for search, but his emphasis is clear that this will not be its primary role and that if you want to search, that is what Google Search is for. 

Elizabeth Reid, vice president of engineering for search at Google, backed Krawczyk up, echoing that Bard will be separate from search and that Google wants to “keep the heart of what search is.” She did add, however, that Google did have a prolific history of using large language models in search, perhaps indicating that Bard could become one of them.

Again, this is a slight departure from the lead-up to the announcement of Bard, which stated that Bard was being developed so that it could be integrated into Google search, and that there was a great amount of emphasis on this in the initial strategy. Several unnamed Google employees have said that this change in messaging has left them confused and that they found executives’ messaging inconsistent.

google office

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Sundry Photography)

While Wall Street has not been too impressed with this mixed messaging (Google’s stock has dropped since Bard was announced), this is not necessarily all bad. 

We are at the beginning stages of this technology, so in my opinion, caution is warranted and adherence to as much feedback as possible is sensible. Following Bard’s announcement, Google’s company leaders insisted that employees test Bard and revise wrong answers, quoting a “great responsibility to get it right.” 

The position of ‘first out of the gate’ has already been taken, and interest in AI chatbots is bound to last for some time, so taking time to make sure it releases in the best possible state is a wise move Still, it’s hard to say when Bard will premiere exactly, as Google employees themselves are seemingly surprised by its current development. 

Google’s present leadership has been under some scrutiny, especially for the recent Bard introduction, and nobody wants to show their long-term development cards. As Google has a monopoly in the search game, its AI chatbot is perhaps the most hotly anticipated, but as we have already seen, the slightest misstep can have big ramifications. 

I have no doubt Google will try to avoid this happening again, but the sooner it gives more clarity to both potential users and its own employees, the faster it can catch up – and even overtake – its competition in the AI chatbot space. After all, Google is more used to leading the pack, than following it  

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Microsoft delays Office 365 price rise once again

Microsoft has once again delayed its planned price increase of both its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 office software suites.

The price increase was first announced by corporate VP for Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro last August in a blog post and was set to come into effect at the beginning of this month. Now though, the software giant has pushed back the change until March 15.

Right when the price increase was set to go into effect, Microsoft announced a set of temporary discounts for cloud service providers (CSPs) that sell Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions. CSPs currently have until 5pm PDT on March 14 or 12am UTC on March 15 to submit transactions and have them invoiced at the company's February 2022 pricing. 

These temporary discounts are designed to allow CSPs “to clear the backlog of orders for these SKUs due to high demand in advance of the March 1 price increases” according to a Microsoft support document.

First substantive price increase

For those unfamiliar with Microsoft's pricing changes for both Office 365 and Microsoft 365, Microsoft 365 Business Basic will increase from $ 5 to $ 6 per user per year, Microsoft 365 Business Premium will go from $ 20 to $ 22, Office 365 E1 will go from $ 8 to $ 10, Office 365 E3 will go from $ 20 to $ 23, Office 365 E5 will go from $ 35 to $ 38 and Microsoft 365 E3 will go from $ 32 to $ 36.  

Thankfully though, these pricing changes do not apply to the company's consumer or education products.

Back in August of last year, Spataro pointed to the fact that these pricing changes were the “first substantive pricing update” to Office 365 since its launch just over a decade ago. He also highlighted how the company has added 24 apps including Microsoft Teams, Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, Stream, Planner, Visio, OneDrive, Yammer, and Whiteboard to the software suite and released 1,400 new features and capabilities across three key areas: communication and collaboration, security and compliance and AI and automation.

According to The Register, Microsoft's revenues grew by a fifth to $ 51.7bn during the second fiscal quarter of this year while operating income increased by 24 percent from $ 17.89bn to $ 22.2bn. However, the company's Microsoft Azure cloud services and its server products have been the main drivers of its higher revenue recently. As such, Microsoft's Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes Office 365, will need to bring in additional revenue to keep up with the company's other divisions.

Via The Register

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