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Microsoft Changes PC Keyboard for the First Time in 30 Years

Microsoft Changes the PC Keyboard
For the first time in 30 years, Microsoft is changing the PC keyboard by adding a new AI Copilot key. Credit: Windows / YouTube

Microsoft is making a major update to Windows keyboards just before the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES). They are introducing a brand-new key, called the Copilot key, which is the most significant change to Windows keyboards in almost thirty years.

The special Copilot key sits to the right of the space bar. When you press it, it activates Microsoft’s latest Copilot service.

The service is designed to assist you in various tasks, such as summarizing documents, suggesting music, and answering questions similar to what you might ask of a search engine or AI chatbot. On some keyboards, this new Copilot key will take the place of either the menu key or the right control key, according to CNET.

“Nearly 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard that enabled people all over the world to interact with Windows,” says Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft. “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.”

Microsoft’s commitment to artificial intelligence

The introduction of the AI key underlines Microsoft’s dedication to artificial intelligence. In the past year, the company integrated generative AI into key products like Windows 11 and its search engine, Bing.

Copilot, the AI tool linked to the new key, relies heavily on sophisticated language models, specifically leveraging Open AI’s advanced GPT-4.

“We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily,” wrote Mehdi in Microsoft’s official blog post. “The new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day,” he further added.

The new AI key will debut on the initial batch of Windows 11 laptops and PCs from Microsoft’s partners just before the upcoming CES. It includes the latest Dell XPS laptops, which are already showcasing the new key.

Microsoft plans to expand availability from late February through spring, eventually extending to upcoming Surface devices. The Copilot button will become a standard and necessary feature, as reported by CNET.

Functionality of new Copilot key based on location

If Windows Copilot is not yet accessible in your country, it will still serve a purpose by launching Windows Search instead. Unlike the current Windows key, which opens the Start menu or can be paired with other keys for quick access to various features, the Copilot key is currently solely a launch key.

It remains uncertain if Microsoft intends to enable the Copilot key to work in combination with other keys in the future. For now, its primary role is to streamline the activation of Windows Search, according to The Verge.

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