June 19, 2024
This week in AI: Microsoft's sticks an AI ad on keyboards

Microsoft announced two new Surface devices and a slew of new accessories at a virtual event today, but the first part of the presentation focused squarely on how its AI Copilot is getting integrated ever deeper into Windows. For the most part, however, this was a hardware event with some enterprise software dressing. But that’s how things are at Microsoft now: Everything needs to have a Copilot angle — even its most straightforward hardware events.

The actual Copilot story Microsoft told here — at length — was largely a rehash of previously announced updates, customer testimonials and a lot of chatter about how Copilot will make employees happier and more productive by summarizing meetings they didn’t attend and documents they didn’t read.

“Windows 11 and Windows 365 promise a new era of AI productivity,” said Melissa Grant, Microsoft’s senior director for Windows Enterprise. “Our goal is to empower employees to work more efficiently and creatively and make the most of their productive time.”

How exactly is Microsoft going to do that? By adding a toggle to the Copilot experience on Windows 11 that lets users switch between “Work” and “Web” now. The Work button brings Copilot’s Microsoft 365 capabilities — and the internal company data it is powered by — into the Windows interface. That’s because the first part of Microsoft’s strategy for Copilot is to put it in the hands of as many people as possible. Windows, after all, is meant to “deliver technology that puts you on a path to becoming an AI-centered organization,” Grant said.

Copilot in Windows

Copilot in Windows. Image Credits: Microsoft

Microsoft is also betting on cloud PCs delivered through Windows 365 as a surface for the Copilot. The app to access those cloud PCs (as well as Azure Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop) is the aptly named Windows app. Microsoft says that Windows App usage has now reached over 3 million active hours since it entered preview at the Microsoft Ignite 2023 in November. It’s a big number, but it would only take roughly 3,000 or 4,000 users working full-time on cloud PCs during their workdays to get to that since it launched. Microsoft cites Vodafone and Zurich Insurance Group as early adopters.

Microsoft also highlighted that Copilot can now run some basic IT functions right from the chat (or at least open the right settings window for you) — something it had already announced weeks ago. And those Windows 365 cloud PCs? They can now be resized.

And that’s pretty much it. Please smash that Copilot button to subscribe.

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