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The Copilot key from Microsoft marks the first major modification to Windows keyboards in three decades

Microsoft is aiming to make 2024 “the year of the AI PC,” and it is introducing a significant change to the keyboard on new PCs and laptops to kick off this initiative. The company is introducing a new Copilot key that will be shipped on various devices from Microsoft’s partners. This key provides quick access to Microsoft’s AI-powered Windows Copilot experience directly from a button press on the keyboard.

The Copilot key is considered the first major alteration to the Windows PC keyboard layout in nearly 30 years. According to Yusuf Mehdi, Executive Vice President and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, the Windows key introduced three decades ago was a transformative moment. Now, Microsoft sees the Copilot key as another transformative moment, serving as the entry point into the world of AI on the PC.




Microsoft Copilot key coming to new Windows 11 laptops
Microsoft Copilot key coming to new Windows 11 laptops

This Copilot key will replace the menu key (application key) that was introduced alongside the Windows key decades ago. Positioned next to the right-hand alt key on most keyboards, the key’s placement will vary by original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and across different markets. It is in the same spot where Microsoft added a dedicated Office key to its keyboards in 2019. The Copilot key launches the Windows Copilot, an AI-powered chatbot within Windows 11, which can answer queries or perform actions inside the operating system.

In regions where Windows Copilot is not available, the Copilot key will launch Windows Search instead. Unlike the existing Windows key, which can open the Start menu or be combined with other keys for various shortcuts, the Copilot key serves as a launch key for now. It is unclear whether Microsoft plans to enable the Copilot key for use in combination with other keys in the future.

Microsoft has not disclosed which OEMs will add the Copilot key, leaving those announcements for the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show and beyond. Yusuf Mehdi mentioned that the Copilot key will be unveiled on new Windows 11 PCs from ecosystem partners, with availability starting later this month and continuing through the spring, including on upcoming Surface devices.

Rumors about the Copilot key being featured on new Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 models in the spring have now been confirmed. Microsoft has integrated Copilot into various aspects throughout 2023, and the Copilot key is part of broader AI-powered changes planned for Windows throughout 2024. Microsoft is working on a Windows “refresh” focused on new AI features, expanding AI into more parts of its software and services. The company has even branded Microsoft Edge as the “AI browser” at the beginning of this year, emphasizing its ongoing commitment to integrating AI across its products and services.

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