Microsoft Adds Deployment Controls to Bing Chat Enterprise AI Service
IT pros can now roll out the service to users or groups.
Microsoft on Monday announced that the Bing Chat Enterprise service, currently at preview, is getting some "new admin controls."
Bing Chat Enterprise is a generative artificial intelligence (AI) service based on OpenAI's ChatGPT large language model. Microsoft began rolling it out to some Microsoft 365 customers as early as July. It's a free addition for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium subscribers, and it's also free for Academic (A3/A5) Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Organizations only get access to the Bing Chat Enterprise preview if IT pros "turn Bing Chat Enterprise on or off for all users with eligible licenses," the announcement explained, although what's new now is that IT pros can choose which users will get it. Microsoft has added a new ability to deploy the service via Microsoft's "ring"-based triage scheme. Per that scheme, the service can be offered to a small group of testers initially, prior to a larger rollout.
Bing Chat Enterprise Service Plan
Microsoft refers to these user and group management controls in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center portal as the "Bing Chat Enterprise service plan," per an FAQ document, dated Sept. 11, 2023:
A Bing Chat Enterprise service plan (Bing_Chat_Enterprise) has been added to eligible Microsoft 365 licenses in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Admins can use this service plan to manage access to Bing Chat Enterprise for specific users and groups.
The FAQ added that IT pros will get notified about the availability of this Bing Chat Enterprise service plan "via a Microsoft admin center message in September 2023." It's not available yet though for Academic (A3/A5) Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Bing Chat Enterprise's Use of Data
Microsoft's announcement also clarified that Bing Chat Enterprise just pulls information from the "public web." It lacks access to company information via Microsoft Graph internal use data.
To use a generative AI service that does have such access to organizational data, Microsoft has its Microsoft 365 Copilot service, also currently at preview. The Microsoft 365 Copilot service won't be free, as Microsoft has already projected that it will cost $30 per user per month when commercially released.
Bing Chat Enterprise can use company data if "a user has explicitly typed or copied directly into the chat or if a user opens Bing Chat Enterprise in the Microsoft Edge sidebar and has given permission for Bing Chat Enterprise to access a document or intranet page open in the browser," the announcement explained. However, the data doesn’t get saved by the service. Microsoft's FAQ also noted that OpenAI, the maker of the ChatGPT large language model that's being leveraged, doesn't see the data as "all chat data is processed by Microsoft."
No such protections over organizational data are afforded if the consumer Bing Chat service gets used instead of Bing Chat Enterprise. However, right now, organizations can't block users from using the Bing Chat service without also blocking the use of the Bing Chat Enterprise service.
"There currently isn't a control to block access to the consumer Bing Chat experience without impacting access to Bing Chat Enterprise," the FAQ stated.
The same issue will pop up again if organizations try to block Bing Chat Enterprise.
"As a reminder, turning off Bing Chat Enterprise will revert the user to the consumer Bing Chat experience," the announcement warned.
Microsoft also explained that Bing Chat Enterprise may process data in U.S.-based datacenters, but the data get encrypted in transit and are just retained for "a short caching period." Afterward, Microsoft's service deletes the data.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.