In the first change to Microsoft keyboards in 30 years, an AI key is to be added to Microsoft Windows 11 PC keyboards from February.
In a move that Microsoft says will make “2024 the year of the AI PC” and to mark a “shift toward a more personal and intelligent computing future where AI will be seamlessly woven into Windows from the system”, the new AI key will be added to allow the launch of Copilot directly from the keyboard.
Copilot is Microsoft’s AI-powered “companion” that’s been embedded into 365’s popular apps to provide intelligent suggestions and automation. This includes areas like Office Suite, where it can help in creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations by suggesting content, layouts, data insights and help with coding. It’s designed to enhance productivity and creativity, and to streamline tasks across different Microsoft software.
First Change To Keyboard In Three Decades
In a blog post announcing the change, Microsoft says “the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades. We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily.”
Microsoft says that over the coming days leading up to and at the Computer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas January 9-12, 2024, users will notice the Copilot key being added to many of the new Windows 11 PCs from its own partners, with availability beginning later in January through Spring, including on upcoming Surface devices.
Microsoft has invested heavily in (and worked in partnership with) OpenAI (ChatGPT’s creators) and this small but significant keyboard change shows how competition in the relatively new generative AI field is hotting up. With Google’s Bard and Duet AI (its equivalent of Copilot) plus Gemini and AI Studio, Microsoft’s move to compete and make it easier to access Copilot is behind this latest keyboard change. Some commentators compared it to when Apple added a Siri button (or option) to its touch bar on MacBooks to support voice usage.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The introduction of the first change to Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades reflects Microsoft’s investment in AI and the fact they’re competing with rivals such as Google. Clearly, they’ll want to gain share in the generative AI market, and support and boost user numbers for Copilot. It’s also a way for Microsoft to bind users to its many products and ensure that the company remains a front-runner in what Microsoft sees as a world where AI is here to stay and grow in importance.
The company’s need to be leading the field may in no small way be the reason why its relationship has become so close to OpenAI (with the recent high-profile boardroom turmoil) that the relationship has become the subject of antitrust investigations. Expect more significant changes as the fast-evolving and highly competitive generative AI market grows.