Microsoft adds new AI ‘Copilot key’ to keyboards to call up chatbot; the first big change to Windows keyboards in 30 years

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new “Copilot key” to welcome “the year of AI-powered Windows PCs.” This new AI button, designed to trigger the Microsoft Copilot service, marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard layout in nearly 30 years.

The Copilot key serves as a quick gateway to Microsoft’s Copilot service and will be featured on various new PCs and laptops from Microsoft’s partners.

This move also reflects Microsoft’s significant investment in AI integration across its products. The Copilot key will come pre-installed on various PCs and laptops from Microsoft’s partners, allowing users quick access to the AI-powered Windows Copilot experience with a simple press of a button.

“Today, we are excited to take the next significant step forward and introduce a new Copilot key to Windows 11 PCs. In this new year, we 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. This will not only simplify people’s computing experience but also amplify it, making 2024 the year of the AI PC,” Microsoft said.

In a blog post, Microsoft executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi highlighted the significance of this milestone. He likened it to the introduction of the Windows key 30 years ago, which revolutionized interaction with Windows. Mehdi sees the Copilot key as a gateway to the world of AI on PCs.

“Nearly 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard that enabled people all over the world to interact with Windows. We see this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC,” Mehdi said.

This addition emphasizes Microsoft’s ambition to bring AI capabilities to PCs. These machines are equipped with advanced chips that can run large language models and AI-powered apps directly on the device, rather than relying on cloud-based processing.

Industry analysts predict that AI-enabled PCs could rejuvenate the personal computer market post-pandemic. Research firm Canalys anticipates a surge in the adoption of AI-capable PCs starting in 2025.

Microsoft plans to showcase this new key on select Windows 11 PCs at the upcoming CES technology trade show in Las Vegas. The Copilot key will be available on devices launching after February, including upcoming Surface models.

Copilot, unveiled in November, offers various functions like text summarization and virtual meetings across Microsoft’s web and productivity applications. This innovation signifies Microsoft’s commitment to integrating AI across its services.