Microsoft adding new PC button in its first significant keyboard change in decades

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Microsoft is adding an artificial intelligence button to its Windows keyboards in a move that marks the company’s first significant keyboard change in nearly three decades. 

The button — called the Copilot key — will launch Microsoft’s AI chatbot, the company’s executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi wrote in the Thursday announcement. He said Microsoft sees the key addition as “the entry point into the world of AI on the PC.”

“We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily,” Mehdi wrote. 

Copilot, announced in March of last year, integrates AI into Microsoft’s software. The tool is integrated with Microsoft 365 and works alongside Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams. Users can currently access it with the keyboard shortcut Windows + C.

Mehdi wrote that the additional key will move the technology world closer to a future where AI is “seamlessly” woven into Windows, from the system to the hardware. 

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

Starting this month, some new PCs running Windows 11 will have the Copilot keyboard button. The key will also be included on some upcoming Surface devices. 

Microsoft did not specify which computer manufacturers would be adding the button, only saying the key would be on “many of the new Windows 11 PCs from our ecosystem partners.” Dell Technologies on Thursday said the Copilot key would be on its newest XPS laptops. 

If Copilot is not available or enabled on the device, pressing the key will launch Windows’ search function instead.

Microsoft compared the new button to the Windows key, which was introduced nearly 30 years ago. The new button, featuring the Copilot logo, will be located near the keyboard’s space bar. The QWERTY layout, which comprises the bulk of the modern keyboard, was developed in the 1870s.


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