Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Microsoft Wants OEMs Making AI PCs to Include a Dedicated Copilot Key in the Keyboard: Report

Microsoft has a stricter definition of what constitutes an artificial intelligence (AI) PC compared to Intel, as per a report. For the Windows maker, an AI PC requires a powerful processor such as the Intel Core Ultra for enabling AI capabilities, software-based Copilot capabilities, and a dedicated Copilot key in the keyboard, as revealed by an Intel executive. The last requirement is considered a strange one, as this disqualifies PCs that come with a dedicated AI processor, GPU, and a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU), but not the Copilot key from the AI PC category.

Todd Lewellen, Head of the PC ecosystem at Intel spoke with The Verge in a press briefing and elaborated upon the matter. He said, “Our joint aligned definition, Intel and Microsoft, we’ve aligned on Core Ultra, Copilot, and Copilot key. From an Intel perspective, our AI PC has Core Ultra and it has an integrated NPU because it is unlocking all kinds of new capabilities and functions in the AI space. We have great alignment with Microsoft, but there are going to be some systems out there that may not have the physical key on it but it does have our integrated NPU.”

The difference in opinion between Microsoft and OEM manufacturers can give rise to a tricky situation as the Windows maker is one of the biggest players in the AI space, and with a hold on the operating system, it can be one of the definitive voices of which PCs may or may not get the on-device AI features it develops.

An easy solution is for OEMs to simply include the Copilot key, like most Windows-powered PCs already have a dedicated Windows key. However, this would exclude some in-between devices that have already launched with required hardware capabilities but no Copilot key.

For instance, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 which is available in the market and features Intel’s Core Ultra processor and its AI Boost NPU would not be considered an AI PC in Microsoft’s eyes. But, based on a newsroom post by Intel which says an AI PC “has a CPU, a GPU and an NPU, each with specific AI acceleration capabilities”, as well as Lewellen’s words, it fulfils all requirements of an AI PC. What becomes of such PCs is not known. Notably, Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for businesses recently, and as the tech giant labels it the company’s first AI PCs, they feature Intel Core Ultra as well as a dedicated Copilot key.

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