Microsoft Adds AI to PC Keyboard – First Change in 30 Years

Windows 11 PC keyboards will get a dedicated Copilot key that users can press to bring up generative AI capabilities

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

January 4, 2024

2 Min Read
A colorized version of the Copilot key on Microsoft's new Windows 11 PC keyboards

At a Glance

  • Microsoft is an AI key shortcut to its PC keyboard, the first change since 1994 when it added the Windows key.
  • The Copilot key, which will sit to the right of the space bar, brings up generative AI capabilities based on OpenAI's tech.
  • No more clicking around to find settings on your PC. Ask Copilot to help you do things like, add a Bluetooth device.

For the first time in 30 years, Microsoft is changing its Windows keyboard to add a dedicated AI button in a move it heralds as ushering in the “year of the AI PC.”

The button, which will sit to the right of the space bar next to the ‘alt’ key on Windows 11 PC keyboards, looks like an open loop. When pressed, it will bring up Microsoft’s AI assistants it calls Copilots.

Copilot can help users write emails and other content, analyze reports, create and edit images, find information, among other tasks. It already replaced Cortana in May, Microsoft’s old personal assistant application.

To use the Copilot key, users will have to log in to their Microsoft account. When Copilot is not available or enabled on the device, pressing the key will instead launch Windows Search.

Availability from Microsoft partners begins in late February through Spring, including on new Surface devices, Microsoft’s touchscreen PCs. But users can get a sneak peak next week from some PC manufacturers at CES, the largest consumer technology show in the world.

The last time Microsoft made a change to its PC keyboard was in 1994, when it added the Windows key that brings up the start sidebar.

“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,” wrote Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer chief marketing officer, in a blog post.

Related:Microsoft Adds Copilot to Windows in Latest AI Push

Microsoft has embedded Copilot into Bing search and its Edge browser, Microsoft 365 and 365 for Enterprise, and the Windows 11 operating system (so users can ask Copilot for help in doing tasks that they normally would have to click around for, such as adding a Bluetooth device to a PC.)

To be sure, users can already call up Copilot by clicking on the software application itself. Microsoft is adding a keyboard hardware shortcut. Copilot uses AI models from OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT in which Microsoft has invested $13 billion.

Also coming to Windows are AI-powered experiences for apps like Paint, Photos and Clipchamp.

Read more about:

ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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