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ChatGPT vs. Copilot: Which AI chatbot is better for you?

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

Since ChatGPT launched in November 2022, AI chatbots have been the talk of the internet. ChatGPT’s abilities to generate text, talk conversationally, write code, and do so much more caused huge demand for the chatbot. 

Naturally, seeing ChatGPT’s massive success, other companies rushed to compete in the generative AI space. 

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other noteworthy alternatives

Shortly after ChatGPT’s launch, Microsoft announced the integration of AI into its Bing search engine, known at the time as Bing Chat, later renamed to Copilot. Despite being designed for the same purpose, Copilot had some major advantages over ChatGPT, with the biggest perk being access to the internet for free. 

However, in May 2024, OpenAI leveled the playing field, unveiling upgrades to the free version of ChatGPT that matched Copilot’s and offered more. So, which chatbot should you use? To help make your decision easier, we compared ChatGPT (the free version) and Copilot. 

ChatGPT Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

You should use ChatGPT if…

1. You want to experience the hype for yourself

Since its launch, ChatGPT has been the leading AI chatbot and has served as the blueprint for the many AI chatbot spinoffs that have entered the space. 

Also: AI business is booming: ChatGPT Enterprise now boasts 600,000+ users

As a result, it has the most name recognition and popularity, and the hype is well deserved. ChatGPT is a capable chatbot that can provide insight and assistance on various topics, including technical areas such as writing and coding. 

ChatGPT is currently free to use and open to everyone. Therefore, if you are curious about how an AI chatbot could benefit you, you might as well try the one that started the boom — and find out what you like and need in a chatbot assistant. 

2. You want free access to OpenAI’s latest model, GPT-4o

The most compelling reason to try ChatGPT is to experience GPT-4o. In May 2024, OpenAI unveiled its latest and most advanced flagship model — GPT-4o. As the name implies, the model has the same intelligence as GPT-4, which is impressive because it outperformed its predecessor on nearly every benchmark, including reasoning, coding, English, and more. 

Additionally, the ‘o’ in the new model’s title is a nod to its multimodal capabilities, which allow it to understand text, audio, image, and video inputs, and output text, audio, and image outputs.

Also: 6 ways OpenAI just supercharged ChatGPT for free users

With the upgrade, free users can take advantage of features typically limited to paid users, such as getting responses from the web, uploading files and images, and accessing Memory and the GPT Store. 

Eventually, free ChatGPT users will also be able to use the new Voice Mode, supercharged with GPT-4o’s video and audio capabilities, to provide a more conversational experience and use the context from your environment to provide voice answers. 

You should use Copilot if…

Copilot Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

1. You want footnotes automatically added

One of the biggest concerns with using ChatGPT is an inability to confirm the accuracy of its responses as the tool does not provide sources for answers. Even though the May update to ChatGPT allowed the chatbot to browse the internet, it only provides the web link in some instances or when prompted. 

Also: AI taking on more work doesn’t mean it replaces you. Here are 12 reasons to worry less

When you ask a question in Copilot, the chatbot automatically includes footnotes in its generated answers that lead you back to the source of its response. Click the footnote and you will be sent directly to the web article in another tab. 

This capability is useful when you use the chatbot to learn more about a subject. It’s easy to explore further by clicking one of the links provided by the chatbot, especially if you want to learn more about one part of the answer, as you can click on the footnote next to it. 

2. You want more visual responses 

Copilot resembles a search engine. The chatbot’s responses include plenty of links and, in many instances, photos. The visual components add to the answers because they provide context and make the user experience more fun and engaging. The graphics the tool creates will also often include additional information. 

Alternatives to consider

Generative AI tools on the market offer different strengths. Here are others you can try:

View at GoogleView at Perplexity
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