Microsoft says dedicated Copilot key is most 'significant change' to keyboard since Windows key

PC keyboards are getting a new addition, with the Copilot key set to be the most significant introduction since the Windows key almost 30 years ago.

2 minutes & 38 seconds read time

Forget the Windows key, there's a new introduction for Windows keyboards that Microsoft has just revealed - Copilot is getting its own dedicated key.

By pressing the Copilot key, as you can probably guess, you'll swiftly summon the presence of the AI assistant on your Windows 11 desktop (or Windows 10 for that matter, as Copilot is coming to the older OS, too).

In a blog post introducing the new key, Microsoft pointed out that this is the first 'significant change' to the Windows PC keyboard in the best part of 30 years. (It was nearly three decades ago when Microsoft first brought in the Windows key in all its shortcut-enabling glory.

Yusuf Mehdi, Executive VP and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, wrote that:

"The Copilot key joins the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day."

Naturally, all of this is part of Microsoft's grand vision of AI being everywhere, and moreover being convenient to access.

Although not everyone will use Copilot, of course, and therefore might be a bit miffed at having a key they don't want or need taking up space on their keyboard deck.

Still, like it or loathe it, the Copilot key will be shown off on new Windows 11 laptops at CES 2024, which kicks off next week - notebooks which are set to go on sale from late February 2024 and onwards. Naturally, you can expect Microsoft's future Surface devices to come bearing the Copilot key, too.

While a dedicated Copilot key may seem like overkill now - and let's face it, with the state of the AI assistant still being pretty barebones currently, it is overkill - that may not be the case down the line.

If anything, this shows how serious Microsoft is about making Copilot, and on a broader level, AI, a success story within its various products.

We just saw the Edge browser on mobile renamed to be 'Microsoft Edge: AI Browser' and what's interesting here is that there's nothing different about the actual app - at all. It's just a marketing rebrand for the browser, showing how Microsoft is set to push harder with AI, but for now, the AI-powered functionality in Edge remains the same as before.

Expect similar moves from Microsoft to rename products to include AI somewhere in the rebrand, and to further underline the importance of artificial intelligence across the board this year.

After all, as Mehdi pointed out in the aforementioned blog post, 2024 is set to be the year of the AI PC, with Windows to become an operating system that blurs the boundaries between local and cloud processing. The latter is presumably a reference to next-gen Windows - which may, or may not, be Windows 12 - and how this will push forward on both AI and cloud fronts.

Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

What's in Darren's PC?

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