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Microsoft hikes Bing Search API prices to “reflect technology investments”

Microsoft cited recent high-profile investments in Bing as justification for the price increases

Developers that implement the Bing Search API could be set for major cost increases after Microsoft unveiled a range of pricing changes.

The changes represent a comprehensive overhaul of pricing tiers for the API. Microsoft told developers the increase will come into effect from 1 May this year and will apply “to all markets”.  

“Starting 1 May 2023, you’ll be charged the new price for all Microsoft Bing APIs,” the company said.  

“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.” 

This abrupt price hike appears to be directly related to recent tech investments made by the company, namely with the integration of ChatGPT in Bing.  

“The new pricing model reflects more accurately the technology investments Bing continues to make to improve Search,” the company said.

Microsoft unveiled its new sharpened focus on Bing search earlier this month, sparking talk of a looming battle between the Redmond firm and Google in the browser, search, and generative AI spaces.  

The firm said the inclusion of chatbot technology within the Bing search engine will enable it to deliver “better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience, and the ability to generate content”.  

How will the Bing API price changes work? 

Pricing changes for Bing search are split into several separate tiers based on the volume of transactions per second (TPS). 

In the S1 tier, for example, which is based on an average of 250 TPS, customers are currently charged $7 per 1,000 transactions for Bing Web Search and $7 per 25,000 transactions for Bing Image Search.

Under the new pricing, this will change to $25 per 1,000 web search transactions and $25 per 25,000 image search transactions, marking a significant average increase for customers on this tier.  

Customers on this tier opting for the Optional Bing Statistics Add-in will also see prices rising from $1 per 1,000 transactions to $10, pricing data showed.  

This statistics add-on gathers usage details based on the volume of user queries and applies to all Bing search services such as web, image, and news search. 

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At present, customers that implement Bing search APIs are invoiced “based on number of transactions”, according to Microsoft.

These plans are pay-as-you-go and can incur penalties if the number of TPS is exceeded.  

“If you happen to exceed the mentioned number of transactions per second, your usage will be throttled to be within the mentioned limit,” Microsoft says.  

With the introduction of the new pricing plan, Microsoft said customers “do not need to take any action” as the changes will take effect “automatically and be reflected in the next billing cycle after the change is activated". 

What providers use Bing search APIs? 

Several major independent search providers use Bing APIs, including privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo and green search engine Ecosia. How these providers will be impacted by the pricing increase is unclear at present.  

IT Pro has approached DuckDuckGo and Ecosia for comment on the matter.  

Tightening grip on APIs 

Microsoft’s price changes come as several major tech industry players tighten their grip on APIs. Twitter, for example, has been highly vocal about its intentions to overhaul the structuring of its API access.  

At the beginning of February, the social media firm revealed it would no longer support free access to the Twitter API and planned to introduce a paid, tier-based system. This move sparked heavy criticism from the developer community.  

The implementation of this change has been fraught with delays, however. On 13 February the company said it planned to delay the launch of its new API platform “by a few more days”.  

Twitter is yet to reveal additional information on the launch of the new API platform.   

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