ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini: Which is the best AI chatbot?


ChatGPT vs Copilot vs Gemini

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed how we work and play in recent months, giving almost anyone the ability to write code, create art, and even make investments. For professional and hobbyist users alike, generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, offer advanced capabilities to create decent-quality content from a simple user prompt. 

Keeping up with all the latest AI tools can get confusing, especially as Microsoft added GPT-4 to Bing and renamed it to Copilot, OpenAI added new capabilities to ChatGPT and released GPT-4o, and Bard got plugged into the Google ecosystem and rebranded to Gemini.

Also: How to use ChatGPT (and how to access GPT-4o)

Knowing which of the three most popular AI chatbots is best to write code, generate text, or help build resumes is challenging. We’ll break down the biggest differences so you can choose the one that best meets your needs. 

Testing ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini

To help determine which AI chatbot gives more accurate answers, I’m going to use a simple prompt to compare the three: 

“I have 5 oranges today, I ate 3 oranges last week. How many oranges do I have left?”

The answer should be five, as the number of oranges I ate last week doesn’t affect the number of oranges I have today, which is what we’re asking the three bots. First up, ChatGPT.

You should use ChatGPT if…

Introducing ChatGPT

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

1. You want the most advanced AI chatbot – for free

OpenAI lets users access ChatGPT, available with the GPT-3.5 and the GPT-4o models, for free with a registered account. But if you’re willing to pay for the Plus version, you can access GPT-4, use a higher prompt limit for GPT-4o, and get early access to new features for $20 monthly.

ChatGPT Plus

ChatGPT with GPT-4o, available for free users, answered the question correctly. 

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

GPT-4o is a new omnimodel available for both free and paying ChatGPT users. Rather than relying on three separate models to power its features with GPT-4 for text, DALL-E 3 for images, and Whisper for voice, GPT-4o is a single model capable of processing and generating text, images, and sounds. This makes it faster than GPT-4 for paying subscribers, and its free availability makes it even better. 

Aside from giving free ChatGPT users access to the latest GPT-4o model, the company also announced that free users will have most of the features that until now were exclusive to Plus users. These include web browsing, access to custom GPTs, ChatGPT Memory, and advanced data analysis.

2. You want to try the most popular AI chatbot

ChatGPT was created by OpenAI and released for a widespread preview in November 2022. Since then, the AI chatbot quickly gained more than 100 million users, with its website alone seeing 1.8 billion monthly visitors. It’s been at the center of controversies, especially as people uncover its potential to do schoolwork and replace some workers.

Also: ChatGPT will put your data into interactive tables and charts with GPT-4o

Since its release, I’ve been testing ChatGPT almost daily. Although its user interface has remained simple, minor changes have improved it greatly, such as a simplified user interface and adding GPT-4o for free users, Custom Instructions, and easy access to your account. 

ChatGPT free version

The free version of ChatGPT using the default GPT-3.5 model gave the wrong answer to our question.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Though ChatGPT has proven itself as a valuable AI tool, it can be prone to misinformation. Like other large language models (LLMs), GPT-3.5 is imperfect, as it is trained on human-created data up to January 2022. It also often fails to comprehend nuances, like it did with our math question example, which it answered incorrectly by saying we have two oranges left when the answer should be five. 

Also: I put GPT-4o through my coding tests and it aced them – except for one weird result

For example, the GPT-4o model answered the math question correctly, having understood the full context of the problem from beginning to end.

Next, let’s consider Microsoft Copilot (formerly Bing chat), which is a great way to access GPT-4 for free, as it’s integrated into Bing’s new format. 

You should use Microsoft Copilot if…

Microsoft Copilot

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

1. You want to use GPT-4

Though the free version of ChatGPT lets you use GPT-4o, access to free users is limited to about 15 messages every three hours or capped depending on peak hours to keep it accessible to the widest number of people. After you reach your GPT-4o limit, your chat session reverts to GPT-3.5, which is limited to generating text in a conversational style with information up to early 2022.

Also: How to use Copilot (formerly called Bing Chat)

On the other hand, Copilot can access the internet to deliver more current information than GPT-3.5, complete with links to sources. 

Bing (precise)

Copilot’s Creative conversation style was the only Copilot mode to answer the question accurately.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

There are other benefits, too. Copilot is powered by GPT-4, OpenAI’s LLM, and is completely free. Unfortunately, you are limited to five responses on a single conversation and can enter up to 4,000 characters in each prompt. 

Also: Microsoft Copilot vs. Copilot Pro: Is the subscription fee worth it?

Copilot’s user interface isn’t as straightforward as ChatGPT’s, but it’s still easy to navigate. Though Bing Chat can access the internet to give you more up-to-date results compared to ChatGPT, I’ve found it is more prone to stall before replying and will miss more prompts than its competitor does. 

2. You prefer more visual features

Microsoft has upgraded its platform several times to add visual features to Copilot, formerly Bing Chat. At this point, you can ask Copilot questions like, ‘What is a Tasmanian devil?’ and get a response complete with photos, lifespan, diet, and more, for a more scannable result that is easier to digest than a wall of text. 

When you use Copilot, you also can ask it to create an image for you. Give Copilot a description of what you want the image to look like, and the chatbot will generate four images for you to choose from. 

Also: How to use Image Creator from Microsoft Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator)

Microsoft Copilot features different conversational styles when you interact with the chatbot, including Creative, Balanced, and Precise, which alter how light or straightforward the interactions are. 

Bing Precise

The Balanced and Precise conversation styles in Microsoft Copilot answered my question inaccurately.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Finally, let’s turn to Google’s Gemini, formerly known as Bard. It uses a proprietary LLM and has received considerable upgrades in the past few months.

You should use Gemini if…

Google Gemini chatbot

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

1. You want a fast, almost unlimited experience

In my time testing different AI chatbots, I saw Google Bard catch a lot of flack for different shortcomings. While I’m not going to say they’re unjustified, I will say that Google’s AI chatbot, now named Gemini and powered by a completely different AI model than the one it debuted with, has improved greatly.

Also: How to use Gemini (formerly Google Bard): Everything you should know

Gemini is speedy with its answers, which have become more accurate over time. It’s not faster than ChatGPT Plus, but it can be faster at giving responses than Copilot and faster than the free GPT-3.5 version of ChatGPT, though your mileage may vary. 

Bard response

Gemini answered accurately, like GPT-4o and Copilot’s Creative conversation style.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The previous Bard used to make the same mistake as other bots on my example math problem by incorrectly using the 5 – 3 = 2 formula, but Gemini, powered by Google’s new Gemini Pro — the company’s largest LLM — now answers the question accurately.

Also: Copilot Pro vs. ChatGPT Plus: Which is AI chatbot is worth your $20 a month?

Gemini also is not limited to a set number of responses. You can have long conversations with Google’s Gemini, while Copilot is limited to five replies in one conversation. Even ChatGPT Plus limits users to 40 messages every three hours. 

2. You want the full Google experience

Google Bard - Google Maps

Screenshot by Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Google also incorporated more visual elements into its Gemini platform than those currently available on Copilot. Users can generate images using Gemini, upload photos through an integration with Google Lens, and enjoy Kayak, OpenTable, Instacart, and Wolfram Alpha plugins.

Also: 6 AI tools to supercharge your work and everyday life

Gemini is slowly becoming a full Google experience thanks to extensions that fold the wide range of Google applications into Gemini. Gemini users can add extensions for Google Workspace, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Flights, and Google Hotels, giving them a more personalized and extensive experience.

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