Intel: Microsoft AI PCs need a Copilot Key

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 28, 2024
Windows 11 News, Windows 12 News

Microsoft hopes that 2024 will be the year that so-called AI PCs will take off. Tidbits and rumors about this new breed of PCs are found everywhere, but Microsoft itself has been tight lipped when it comes to requirements.

Intel has now published Microsoft's requirements for an AI PC. It was clear from the start that AI PCs require a neural processing unit (NPU) and modern CPU and GPU silicon. Intel says that for a PC to be called AI PC, it needs to meet two additional requirements: it needs Copilot and also the Copilot key.

Intel AI PCs requirements

While it was clear that Copilot plays a role on AI PCs, as it is makes the core of Microsoft's artificial intelligence strategy, it may come as a surprise that the dedicated Copilot key on the keyboard is also a requirement.

Microsoft announced the Copilot key in early 2024. It is a dedicated key on the keyboard that activates Copilot functionality when used. The key's full functionality is unknown at this point, but it seems likely that it is going to bring Copilot's interface to the front when activated. The introduction of the key is the first major change to Windows keyboards in almost 30 years. The last addition was the Windows key.

Back then, Microsoft said that the Copilot key was optional. That manufacturers could select a position for it on the keyboard or skip it altogether. Now, it appears, that AI PCs at the least require this key, at least according to Intel.

These requirements mean that some laptops and PCs cannot be called AI PCs even though they come with a dedicated NPU and Intel's latest Core Ultra silicon. One example of such a laptop is ASUS' new ROG Zephyrus, which has a dedicated NPU but no Copilot key on the keyboard.

It is unclear at this point whether non-AI PCs will be at a disadvantage when Microsoft launches the next version of Windows 11. It is expected to turn regular Windows 11 systems into AI PCs. How much of that is marketing remains to be seen. It is possible that manufacturers may not advertise their products as AI PCs, if they lack one of the requirements. Functionality-wise, it is possible that Windows provides full AI functionality if the PC has a NPU and modern silicon.

The NPU requirement could hint at local processing. Currently, all interactions with Copilot require an Internet connection. User data, e.g., the text that you type, is submitted to Microsoft servers. It is processed there and then returned. That's costly and also bad for performance, as it may take a couple of seconds before replies appear on the user's screen. Local processing could finally make the Windows-specific Copilot options useful, as they would speed up these significantly.

Most manufacturers will likely jump on the AI PC bandwagon eventually. This means that most PCs that will be released will have the dedicated Copilot key on the keyboard.

Microsoft pushed a dedicated Copilot app recently on Windows devices. The purpose of the app is unclear, as it is a placeholder app for the moment.

Now You: have you tried Copilot? What's your take on it? (via The Verge)

Intel: Microsoft AI PCs need a Copilot Key
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Intel: Microsoft AI PCs need a Copilot Key
Intel published Microsoft's requirements for AI PCs and one of the requirements is that PCs and laptops need a dedicated Copilot key on the keyboard.
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  1. David said on April 4, 2024 at 2:18 pm

    KI-Kraft. Nein, Danke!

  2. John G. said on March 30, 2024 at 5:30 pm

    The more I read the more I laugh. Really amazing how things are becoming so dumb.
    Thanks for the article! :]

  3. hmmbugger said on March 29, 2024 at 11:16 pm

    So if the key is requirement for copilot? So if I do not have this key no copilot is installed

  4. bebe said on March 29, 2024 at 11:12 pm

    Microsoft made/forced the Windows key to be available for shortcuts for the windows operating system. There are plenty of combs left to be used. The addition of another key for the windows os is absured.

  5. 45 RPM said on March 29, 2024 at 7:37 am

    I will access the Copilot key with my middle finger.

  6. Robert said on March 29, 2024 at 3:23 am

    It is possible to disable Copilot in the Group Policy Editor. I have done it so if the chip comes with a key it is just an option that stays dormant. I wonder if that key will get utilized in Ubuntu eventually though! It will be a way for Microsoft to track you in Ubuntu.

  7. Anonymous said on March 29, 2024 at 1:35 am

    So, unless it’s just some trend, NPUs will be a common thing then you can install a clean OS, buy and replace the keycap, rebind to something useful and you’ll end up with a useless chip generating heat for no reason?

  8. Lizard said on March 28, 2024 at 10:01 pm

    AI implemented inside hardware is going to be a full-blown Spyware PC that you cannot turn it off. Better stack up buying a new PC now before this crap is released to everyone. I attend to install Linux on all of my PC’ not want AI near me.

  9. borf said on March 28, 2024 at 9:42 pm

    I want my OS to run programs – sorry, “apps” – on my hardware, reliably and safely. That’s all.

    If I want it to do something in addition to that, I want to decide myself what programs to add.

    It’s hard to think of of something I want less from an OS than “AI”.

    With every change to Windows, it’s almost as if MS is thinking, “OK, we dominate the OS market, but I wonder how bloated and crappy we can make our product before people abandon it? Let’s find out!”

  10. Haakon said on March 28, 2024 at 8:51 pm

    Resistance is futile.

  11. boris said on March 28, 2024 at 5:36 pm

    Good thing that I bought new PC recently. Hopefully it will last me many years with Windows Updates blocked and I will never have to think about Copilot.

  12. VioletMoon said on March 28, 2024 at 3:19 pm

    Maybe the following will help–“How to Add a Copilot Key to Windows Using Auto HotKey.” Different from the simple Windows-C:

    Don’t know about this one–PowerToys?

    A bit early to go out and purchase a new keyboard along with that new computer, screen, and printer you’ve been researching!

  13. Nosedive said on March 28, 2024 at 2:50 pm

    Why does it need to come with Copilot? Why not alternatives? How will this work for EU Intel devices? Its time the EU gets involved again and sue the crap out of Microsoft.

  14. John said on March 28, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    I think Microsoft made a terrible decision investing so much in AI. Yes, down the road it may become useful but also everyone will be offering some sort of AI. I don’t see Microsoft recouping this investment anytime soon. So far, it’s become something most are not willing to pay for. I certainly wouldn’t buy a PC just for that CoPilot key.

  15. Tachy said on March 28, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Did none of these people see Terminator?

  16. Tom Hawack said on March 28, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    Unless the device’s chip, it’s not the PC which is AI-assisted, it”s the OS, Microsoft’s OS as it is.
    What if you but a PC with its keyboard and intend to install on it another OS than Microsoft ?
    Am I missing something or is Microsoft aiming ubiquity ?

    1. anymouse said on March 29, 2024 at 2:00 am

      Nope, you got it… The AI is not on the local PC its on the Microsoft servers. They just want all your data there also, thats how they make money the data everu will provide them is extremely valuable.

  17. guest said on March 28, 2024 at 1:25 pm

    before they start up gradeing windows 11 it worked great now it is just crap and the tec’s don’t know how to fix any of it at all

  18. guest said on March 28, 2024 at 1:23 pm

    no one where i live want this crap of spyware and ai spyware Microsoft AI PCs need a Copilot Key clear danger danger

    1. Anonymous said on April 8, 2024 at 4:35 pm

      Is danger because is one more spy against users. It could be very had in near future. My advice is do not update your win 10, I barely do and I use winaero tweaks to block m$ crap.

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