Microsoft Adds AI Key to Keyboards

Microsoft's new AI Copilot integration

On January 4th, Microsoft announced the introduction of a dedicated Copilot key in new laptop and PC models. By pressing this key, users can summon the Windows Copilot AI assistant, which is designed to assist with a variety of tasks on a PC, such as adjusting settings, answering questions, helping with drawing, composing emails, summarizing texts, and more.

Year of the AI PC

Microsoft has labeled the year 2024 as the “Year of the AI PC” and sees the addition of the Copilot key to keyboards as the first step toward this vision. The goal is to allow AI to seamlessly integrate into users’ everyday lives.

Significant change in 30 years

This marks the most significant change to the Windows PC keyboard layout in nearly 30 years. From Microsoft’s official promotional video, it’s evident that the dedicated AI Copilot key is conveniently located between the right ‘Alt’ key and the left arrow key, a familiar spot for many PC users.

AI Copilot key positioning

AI Copilot key close-up

The company has stated that the new Copilot key will become a central part of the PC keyboard experience, just like the Windows key.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said: “About 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to PC keyboards, allowing users worldwide to interact with the Windows operating system. Today, the Copilot key signifies another transformative milestone in the Windows journey, becoming the gateway for PC users to enter the AI era.”

Microsoft plans to disclose more information at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), starting on January 9th. The first batch of new Windows 11 PCs with the AI Copilot feature is set to debut there and will hit the market by the end of February, including upcoming Surface devices that will also include the Copilot key.

If Windows Copilot is not yet available in a user’s country or region, the functionality of the Copilot key will default to launching Windows Search. While the existing Windows key can open the Start menu or combine with other keys for shortcuts and access Windows features, the Copilot key, for now, is just an activation key. It is unclear whether Microsoft plans to allow the Copilot key to work in combination with other keys in the future.

According to earlier reports, Microsoft’s next-generation Windows 12 operating system, with the internal code name “Hudson Valley,” might be released in the fall of 2024. Microsoft appears to be going all-in on artificial intelligence with this release.

What are your thoughts on this change?

Questioning acceptance of the new AI feature

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