Microsoft adds Copilot key to Windows 11

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Microsoft is adding an AI ‘easy button’: In a new blog post this morning — in advance of next week’s Consumer Electronics Show — Microsoft announced it will introduce a new Copilot key for AI-powered Windows PCs. The Copilot key, like the Windows key, becomes will become a core part of the PC keyboard. The company said the introduction of the Copilot key “marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades.”

Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer, wrote that Microsoft “will be ushering in a significant shift toward a more personal and intelligent computing future where AI will be seamlessly woven into Windows from the system to the silicon, to the hardware.”

Mehdi added that the addition will be a big step towards “making 2024 the year of the AI PC.”

The news follows up on Microsoft’s September 2023 announcement that a new version of Windows 11 would have Microsoft’s AI companion Copilot baked right into the operating system (OS) itself.

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At that announcement, Carmen Zlateff, vice president of Windows crowed about how Copilot could have a view across all a user’s applications. “What if Copilot could take copy and paste and make them even better — copy, paste and do?” she said.

Microsoft had announced back in May 2023 that Copilot would be available through all Microsoft 365 applications, part of Microsoft’s longstanding software-as-a-subscription (SaaS) offering, but the Windows announcement offered Copilot to those who just have Windows 11 installed locally and represented a deeper integration of the AI tool into the OS itself.

Today’s blog post said that Microsoft ecosystem partners will be adding the new Copilot key to Windows 11 PCs, with availability beginning in late February through Spring, including on upcoming Surface devices.

There was also a tease about future efforts to tweak Windows to optimize AI experiences: “This will require an operating system that blurs the lines between local and cloud processing,” wrote Mehdi.

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