February 25, 2024

Windows 11 Keyboards to Now Have a ‘Copilot’ Key

Microsoft on Thursday announced the biggest update to the Windows keyboard in 30 years – the addition of a ‘Copilot’ key. The new key allows users to access Microsoft’s AI-powered chatbot Copilot with a single click.

Heralding 2024 as “the year of the AI PC”, Microsoft announced that some of the new Windows PCs from various manufacturers will now feature the new Copilot key.

The AI chatbot will help users with a number of functions, including writing emails, searching the web, and creating AI-generated images.

A “Transformative” Moment for the Windows Keyboard

Comparing the update to the addition of the Windows key in 1994 Microsoft executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi described it as a “transformative” moment.  “This will not only simplify people’s computing experience but also amplify it”, Mehdi wrote in a blog post.

Indeed, this is the first major change made to the Windows keyboard since 1994.

The announcement comes just ahead of the CES tech convention, which is set to take place in Las Vegas next week. A slew of companies are expected to unveil new AI products at the convention.

The past year has witnessed Big Tech companies going neck-to-neck in a race to develop AI tools and integrate them into their products.

It’s worth noting that the underlying technology that powers Copilot is provided by OpenAI. Microsoft, which owns a 49% stake in OpenAI, has invested $13 billion into the AI startup.

UK competition watchdog CMA is currently looking into the relationship between the two companies, which was strengthened after a dramatic upheaval in OpenAI’s boardroom last month.

Increasing AI Integration Across Different Products

Over the last year, tech companies have been increasingly integrating their products with a range of AI tools. Microsoft Office 365 products like Word, Teams, and PowerPoint have already been integrated with Copilot to help write emails, create presentations, and summarize meetings.

Microsoft also added Copilot to its search engine Bing, allowing users to use AI for searching, create text content, and even generate images.

Professor John Tucker, a computer scientist at the University of Swansea, called the introduction of the Copilot button a natural step. As of now, Windows 11 users can already open Copilot using the keyboard combination – Windows + C.

However, Tucker pointed out that a dedicated Copilot key goes on to show the value that Microsoft is placing on the feature. It also shows Copilot’s potential in drawing and binding users to other Microsoft products, he added.

However, Tucker also said that the fact that the Windows keyboard didn’t change much over the last 3 decades wasn’t something to be proud of.

The race in the AI space is quite intense, with Microsoft’s rivals coming up with their own AI products and features. Google, which happens to be the world’s largest search engine, offers Bard, an AI system of its own.

However, it was when OpenAI launched ChatGPT in 2022 that tech giants really began scrambling to outdo each other in the AI race. Copilot is based on GPT-4 – the latest available version of OpenAI’s GPT model.

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