June 17, 2024
Copilot gets its own key on Microsoft’s new Surface devices

We’re still a month or so out from Build, but Microsoft is doing a bit of a trial run this week in the form of an online-only event. What’s been billed as a Windows event is, predictably, focused on AI efforts, with Copilot taking the wheel. A pair of refreshes to the Surface line announced at the event are, predictably, putting the software giant’s chatbot front and center.

The new Surface Pro 10 for Business and Surface Laptop 6 for Business both sport a devoted Copilot key wedged between the Alt key and arrows. In a post published this morning, Surface general manager Nancie Gaskill writes, “The new Copilot key on Surface Laptop 6 makes accessing the power of AI even easier, with a quick button press to invoke Copilot in Windows to help customers to plan their day, find a document using natural text, analyze a website and more with commercial data protection built in.”

Image Credits: Microsoft

The key is the core of what the company is referring to as “the first Surface PCs optimized for AI.” Certainly, building Copilot directly into its keyboards marks a level of commitment for what is still a new project, with MS having only launched Copilot for Microsoft 365 a year ago this month. And I’m not going to spoil the mood by pointing out that Cortana keys were also a thing at one point.

The systems arrive just under four months into what a handful of highly paid branding executives have deemed the “AI PC.” That and the “AI smartphones” like the Samsung Galaxy S24 are fairly meaningless labels. Intel has spent the last several months pushing “the AI PC powered by Intel,” while Apple recently declared M3 MacBook Airs “the best consumer laptops for AI.”

While such language ultimately matters very little to the consumer at the end of the day, “optimized for AI” strikes a healthy balance of riding the new trend without overpromising. At the end of the day, a Copilot key is simply a physical shortcut that surfaces one particular service. It is, however, a commitment of sorts, given that space is at an ultra premium on a laptop/tablet keyboard.

Image Credits: Microsoft

As far as out-of-the-box Copilot functionality, Microsoft is highlighting things like handwriting analysis for OneNote. That the key has been added to a pair of business-focused devices highlights how much the company is considering Copilot an important enterprise play.

The Surface Laptop 6 for Business sports an Intel Core Ultra 5 or 7 processor, coupled with the Intel Boost NPY (neural processing unit), 8–64GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. The display comes in 13.5- and 15-inch touchscreen varieties, which sport a stated 18.5 and 19 hours of battery life, respectively. The Surface Pro 10 for Business sports a 13-inch touchscreen, powered by either the Intel Core Ultra 5 or 7 and the Intel AI Boost NPU.

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