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Microsoft’s New AI Key Marks First Windows Keyboard Addition in 30 Years

Ahead of next week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft has announced the biggest change to Windows keyboards in almost three decades — a new dedicated key to launch its AI tool Copilot.

The Copilot key will live to the right of the space bar and activate Microsoft’s recently released Copilot service, which helps people perform tasks like summarizing documents, recommending music and answering questions you might ask a search engine or AI chatbot. It will replace either the menu key or the right control key on some keyboards.

“We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer, wrote on Thursday. “The new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day.” 

Read more: With Windows Copilot, AI Is Getting Into Microsoft’s Most Important Software

The addition of the AI key highlights Microsoft’s commitment to artificial intelligence. The company incorporated generative AI into some of its most important products over the last year, including Windows 11 and Microsoft search engine Bing. Copilot relies on the large language models, particularly Open AI’s GPT-4.

The button will arrive on the first wave of Windows 11 laptops and PCs of Microsoft’s partners in the days leading up to CES next week, as well as at the technology conference itself. The imminent new line of Dell XPS laptops is already featuring the new key.

Microsoft says to expect a wider release in late February through spring, including on upcoming Surface devices. In time, the Copilot button will become a required feature. 

For Windows users who don’t have Copilot enabled or those who live in countries where Copilot is not available, the new key will bring up Windows Search. Windows users currently can bring up Copilot by pressing the Windows key + C.

“This [new button] will not only simplify people’s computing experience but also amplify it, making 2024 the year of the AI PC,” Mehdi wrote.

Read more: Remember Bing? With ChatGPT’s Help, It’s Coming for Google Search

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.

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