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Google declined to offer much new information about its Bard conversational AI search tool, powered by the LaMDA model, at a live YouTube stream from the company’s Paris office. It repeated what had been written by CEO Sundhar Puchai in a blog post on Monday.

It appeared to be a muted response to Microsoft’s verbiage at its event yesterday at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where CEO Satya Nadella said the “race starts today” in search, and that “We’re going to move fast.”

After the event, Google shares plunged 8% after Reuters reported that a Twitter advertisement for the new Bard service included inaccurate information about which satellite first took pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system.

Google will release Bard to trusted testers this week

Puchai was not present at the Paris event. Instead, Prabhakar Raghavan, an SVP at Google who is responsible for Search, said that “search is still our biggest moonshot,” adding that the “moon keeps moving.”

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He said Google will initially release Bard with a “lightweight, modern version of LaMDA — this much smaller model needs significantly less computing power, which means we’ll be able to scale it to more users and get more feedback.” It will open Bard up to trusted testers this week, with a “high bar for quality, safety and groundedness before launching more broadly,” he said.

Overall, Google presented search as a holistic, multisense experience. It touted improvements around Translate, Maps and Lens, particularly “multisearch” — searching with images and text together, for a combination of words and images that communicate meaning. Multisearch will go live globally on mobile in over 70 languages that Lens is in around the world, the company announced.

Raghavan also noted that Google continues to prioritize approaches that “will allow us to send valuable traffic to a wide range of creators and support the healthy, open web,” he said.

Google also announced that it will start onboarding developers, creators and enterprises to try its generative AI API next month.

Did Google miss the moment?

Still, many on Twitter felt the Google event was underwhelming, and noted that a mobile phone seemed to go missing during a demo and that the live event ended abruptly — with Q&A seeming to be done in private.

Yesterday, Microsoft laid down the gauntlet. The “race starts today” in search, said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at a special event at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. “We’re going to move fast,” he added, as the company announced a reimagined Bing search engine, Edge web browser and chat powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and generative AI.

>>Follow VentureBeat’s ongoing generative AI coverage<<

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman joined on stage at the Microsoft event: “I think it’s the beginning of a new era,” he told the audience, adding that he wants to get AI into the hands of more people, which is why OpenAI partnered with Microsoft — starting with Azure and now Bing.

On Monday, Google and Microsoft, in separate surprise announcements, confirmed they plan to offer dueling generative AI debuts over the next two days.

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