Get ready for your Windows laptop experience to change radically.
“It’s the next era,” said Microsoft’s Pete Kyriacou, likening the impact of AI to the early days of the Internet. The comment from Kyriacou, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices, came after the keynote presentation for the company’s AI and Surface event Thursday.
The event showed that for Microsoft, this next era is starting with a tool called Copilot. The new systemwide digital helper works something like an AI chatbot and is meant to help you do everything from managing your PC’s settings to finding the right playlist to listen to. Microsoft Copilot will also work across apps like Bing and Edge, and it’ll begin rolling out to Windows 11 on Sept. 26 in the next update.
Microsoft, like Google, has been aggressively ramping up its efforts in artificial intelligence throughout 2023, thanks to the overnight success of online chatbot ChatGPT (which Microsoft backs). The incorporation of such technology into Windows is significant because it gives a glimpse of how the way you use a laptop could evolve.
Though Microsoft has dabbled in virtual assistants before, its previous attempts have lagged behind those of its competitors. But Kyriacou doesn’t see Microsoft Copilot meeting the same fate. Since new agents like Copilot are context-aware, they can be more proactive than the voice-activated virtual aides we’ve come to know over the last decade.
“You as a user had the cognitive load of thinking what to ask, or having to generate from scratch to initiate the conversation,” he told CNET in an interview, referring to older voice-enabled assistants. But newer agents like Copilot, said Kyriacou, can “nudge you in the right direction.”
Microsoft’s vision isn’t necessarily unique. At its I/O conference in May, Google also introduced a slew of AI-powered productivity features designed to help generate images, sum up documents and write emails on your behalf.
And even though Apple isn’t nearly as vocal about AI as Microsoft and Google are, the technology has undoubtedly played a larger role in its products in recent years. That’s likely why certain MacOS features, like the new presenter overlay mode for video calls in MacOS Sonoma, are available only on computers running on Apple silicon.
Tech giants like Microsoft are also expected to face more scrutiny regarding AI-related products as conversations around regulation begin to arise on Capitol Hill. And for Copilot to work best, it needs access to a lot of information about you, like texts, emails, habits and so on, which could mean a lot of pushback.
In the near term, though, Microsoft’s goal is to make your Windows laptop more intuitive and easy to use.
“This AI agent is reasoning over ink,” said Kyriacou, referring to Copilot’s ability to interpret text that you write with a stylus. “It’s reasoning over a screen clip; it’s reasoning over a selection inside of Outlook. And then it’s also reasoning over data that may not be in front of you.”
Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.
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