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Microsoft to Add AI Key Button on New Windows 11 PCs

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by SPN Editor

Microsoft has recently unveiled a groundbreaking change to its keyboards, marking the most significant update in keyboard technology in over three decades. This transformation comes in the form of an AI key button, granting users direct access to Copilot, Microsoft’s innovative AI tool, specifically on new Windows 11 PCs.

As a significant investor in OpenAI, the driving force behind Copilot’s AI capabilities, Microsoft has been integrating AI across various products, including Microsoft 365 and Bing Search, which saw significant AI incorporation in 2023.

In contrast, competitor Apple has incorporated a Siri button or option into its touch bar on MacBooks for several years. However, Copilot, Microsoft’s AI assistant, offers a wide range of functionalities, assisting users with tasks like searching, composing emails, and even generating images.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s executive vice president, highlighted the monumental nature of this change in a blog post, likening it to the introduction of the Windows key almost three decades ago. He emphasized that this addition would not only simplify but also amplify the user experience.

These new keyboards, featuring the Copilot AI key, are slated to debut on upcoming products starting in February. Microsoft aims to showcase these innovative keyboards at the imminent CES tech event in Las Vegas, scheduled to commence next week.

The integration of Copilot into various Microsoft Office 365 products, including Word, PowerPoint, and Teams, has enabled functionalities such as meeting summarization, email composition, and presentation creation. This AI tool has also found its place in Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

According to Professor John Tucker, a computer scientist at the University of Swansea, the addition of this dedicated key signifies Microsoft’s recognition of the significance of this feature and its potential to engage users across its diverse range of products. However, he also expressed a view that the relatively unchanged design of keyboards over the past three decades isn’t a testament to progress in this field.

While Google has its own AI system named Bard, it was Microsoft’s collaboration with OpenAI that introduced the robust AI tool, ChatGPT, in 2022, causing competitors to hastily release their versions. Copilot, based on OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model, represents a significant leap in AI-driven capabilities and their integration into everyday tools and devices.

The incorporation of generative AI across pivotal Microsoft products in the past year, such as Windows 11 and the Bing search engine, stands as a testament to the company’s dedication to AI integration. Copilot, a key feature leveraging extensive language models like Open AI’s GPT-4, showcases the pinnacle of Microsoft’s AI-driven innovations.

Scheduled for release alongside the initial wave of Windows 11 laptops and PCs from Microsoft’s partners just ahead of CES, this AI key will also take the spotlight at the technology conference itself. Already, the upcoming line of Dell XPS laptops proudly features this new addition of AI key, hinting at its imminent widespread use.

Microsoft anticipates a broader rollout of the Copilot AI Key button, slated from late February through the spring, encompassing future Surface devices. As adoption grows, this Copilot button is expected to become a standard feature across devices, solidifying its integral role in Microsoft’s ecosystem.

For Windows users not utilizing Copilot or residing in regions where Copilot is inaccessible, the AI key will seamlessly activate Windows Search. Presently, Windows users can access Copilot by using the Windows key in conjunction with the C key.

The introduction of this new AI Key button is poised not only to streamline but also to enrich users’ computing experiences, heralding the onset of 2024 as the era of AI-driven computing.

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