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February 20, 2023updated 27 Jun 2023 3:15pm

Microsoft ramps up pricing for Bing Search API

Microsoft says it is increasing the price of its Bing Search API to reflect the investment it has made into using AI.

By Ryan Morrison

Microsoft is increasing the price of its Bing Search API for developers. It is a substantial increase in price with some tiers up by 1,000% over current pricing levels. This will include the cost of analytics rising from $1 per 1,000 requests to $28 per 1,000 requests. The free tier will remain with a maximum of 1,000 requests per day.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has recently been upgraded to include artificial intelligence in its core infrastructure (Photo: mundissima/Shutterstock)

The new price levels will come into effect from 1 May across all markets. Microsoft says the increase in price is a result of investments it is making to improve Bing Search, including the use of artificial intelligence in its core search models to deliver more targeted results.

“We periodically assess the value and pricing of our services to meet market demands and align the pricing of our products and services with customer consumption trends and preferences,” the company wrote in its update. “The new pricing model reflects more accurately the technology investments Bing continues to make to improve Search.”

While its new Bing Search Chat has made headlines, the AI model has not just been used in chat. Microsoft says it is part of the Bing search ranking engine which led to the “largest jump in relevance in two decades” so that even basic queries return more targeted results.

There are ten API tiers for developers wanting to use or integrate the Bing Search engine results and functionality. They are based on the number of transactions per second, with additional features available such as image, news and video search. Spell check, autosuggest and entity search are also available as add-ons for an extra charge with spell check at 100 transactions per second increasing from $4 for 1,000 transactions to $18 per 1,000 transactions.

Introducing large language model APIs to Bing

The core web search API includes the ability to rank answers to fit the layout of an app or website, instant text-based responses to certain types of queries such as calculations or time zones and location-aware results, so it could be tailored just to return results from a specific town or country.

One of the largestprice increasese is adding Bing Statistics to any plan, going from $1 per 1,000 transactions to $10 per 1,000 transactions. The analytics tool includes volume, top query strings, geographic distribution and more. With full filtering and a dashboard showing a breakdown of use.

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Developers will see their bills increase from the first billing cycle after the changes come into effect, they have until then to change tier or reduce usage to minimise costs. Unlike Twitter, Microsoft is keeping a limited free tier, with 1,000 transactions per month but no more than three transactions per second across all areas of Bing Search. It doesn’t include statistics.

Microsoft is also introducing a new tier that lets users integrate Bing APIs into large language models, such as the one powering the hugely popular OpenAI chatbot ChatGPT. This starts at $28 per 1,000 transactions for under a million requests per day, rising to $200 per 1,000 transactions for more than a million requests per day.

Twitter announced last week it would delay its own API changes due to concerns raised by hobbyist and small developers and users of popular content bots that rely on free access to the API. Writing on Twitter, the TwitterDev account said it would be carrying out a phased roll-out over the next few weeks of its API changes to “focus on the quality and performance of our platform”.

The free access will end for most, but Elon Musk says some developers producing content generating and popular bots will be allowed to maintain free access. There are also likely to be flat rate subscriptions, not charged per request or number of requests as is the case with Bing and OpenAI’s APIs.

Read more: Elon Musk’s Twitter API change could risk EU fine

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