- By Imran Rahman-Jones
- BBC News
Microsoft has announced the biggest change to its keyboards in three decades with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) keys.
The key will allow users to access Microsoft's AI tool Copilot on new Windows 11 PCs.
Microsoft is also a major investor in OpenAI, which leverages Copilot's AI capabilities.
It integrated AI into other products such as Microsoft 365 and Bing Search in 2023.
Rival Apple has added a Siri button or option to its Touch Bar on MacBooks for a few years now.
Copilot helps users perform tasks such as searching, writing emails, and creating images.
A blog Microsoft executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi announced the change, calling it a “transformational” moment, comparing it to the addition of the Windows key nearly 30 years ago.
He added that it would “simplify” and “enhance” the user experience.
The new keyboards are expected to be in new products starting in February.
Microsoft is showing off some products with the Copilot key at the CES tech event starting next week in Las Vegas.
When Copilot is integrated into Office 365 products like Word, PowerPoint, and Teams, it can summarize meetings, write emails, and create presentations.
It is also included in the search engine Bing.
According to Professor John Tucker, a computer scientist at Swansea University, the introduction of the button was a “natural step”.
While Windows 11 users can already access Copilot by pressing Windows key + C, the new key “shows the value the company places on this particular feature and its ability to draw and bind users to many of their products,” he says.
But he added: “Of course, the keyboard has changed very little in 30 years – since 1994 – not something to be proud of.”
Google, the world's largest search engine, has an AI system called Bart.
However, it was Microsoft's partner OpenAI that launched its powerful AI tool ChatGPT in 2022, which competitors struggled to release their own versions of.
Copilot is based on OpenAI's GPT-4 large language model.
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