Microsoft has announced a new key on PC keyboards: the Copilot key. This key will give users direct access to the Copilot AI assistant.
The new key is located next to the Alt key and, according to Microsoft, is the first major change to the layout of PC keyboards in almost 30 years. Back then, Microsoft introduced the Windows key.
Microsoft sees the change as both symbolic and useful: “We see this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows, where Copilot will be the gateway to the world of AI on the PC.”
The announcement comes ahead of the CES tech show in Las Vegas, where several PC makers will unveil new Windows 11 PCs with the Copilot button. The first machines are expected to hit the market in late February.
Microsoft is also reportedly working on “AI PCs” powered by either an Intel or Qualcomm chip that will put AI at the heart of the Windows user experience. What that means is unclear. We might hear more at CES. In the teaser for the Copilot button above, Microsoft also mentions the “era of AI PCs” starting “today”.
Microsoft turns into a copilot company
Microsoft has announced a slew of AI-based copilots recently, including specialized chatbots for coding and cybersecurity. With Windows, Office, and Teams, Microsoft has by far the greatest leverage of any major tech company to bring AI applications into the enterprise.
But there are still many unanswered questions about how to actually work with AI. For example, a recent Salesforce survey found that 64 percent of employees who use AI have presented AI-generated work as their own.
There are also no independent, conclusive studies of productivity gains from using Copilot. However, a multi-university study with consultants from the Boston Consulting Group has shown that AI can have a significant impact on the quantity and quality of work for typical consulting tasks. In particular, low-performing consultants were found to be more productive with AI. The researchers used OpenAI’s GPT-4, which is also powering Microsoft’s Copilot.
Microsoft has not yet been able to gain market share in the search engine market with Bing Copilot. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a court case against Google’s market power that he had overstated the importance of AI chatbots for Internet search.