The introduction of Microsoft’s new AI Key marks the first major update to keyboards in many years.
Microsoft has introduced its first significant redesign of computer keyboards in 30 years, which includes a button for an artificial intelligence chatbot.
Beginning this month, certain new personal computers powered by Microsoft’s Windows operating system will feature a designated “Copilot key” which will activate the technology company’s AI chatbot.
Microsoft’s latest strategy involves persuading third-party computer manufacturers to include an AI button on their laptops. This is seen as a way for the company to leverage its strong partnership with OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, and establish itself as a central hub for utilizing generative AI technology.
While many individuals currently use their phones instead of computers to access the internet and various AI applications, this marks the beginning of a highly competitive year for tech companies as they strive to surpass one another in the realm of AI, despite not having fully addressed all ethical and legal concerns. In fact, The New York Times recently filed a lawsuit against both OpenAI and Microsoft, claiming that their tools, including ChatGPT and Copilot (formerly known as Bing Chat), are violating copyright laws by using news articles without permission.
The upcoming keyboard revamp will be the most significant alteration to PC keyboards from Microsoft since the addition of the Windows key in the 1990s. While Microsoft’s four-square logo has undergone changes, the Windows key has remained a staple on keyboards geared towards Windows for approximately thirty years.
The latest artificial intelligence button will feature the Copilot logo, resembling a ribbon, and will be positioned near the space bar. On certain computers, it will take the place of the right “CTRL” key, while on others it will replace a menu key.
Other companies also have personalized keys, not just Microsoft. In the 1980s, Apple came up with the idea and used a looped square design for their “Command” key (which also had an Apple logo for a period of time). Google has a search button on their Chromebooks and was the first to try out an AI-specific key for their voice assistant on the now-discontinued Pixelbook.
However, Microsoft’s presence in the larger PC market is significantly stronger due to its licenses with third-party companies such as Lenovo, Dell, and HP. According to IDC, approximately 82% of desktop computers, laptops, and workstations run on Windows, while only 9% use Apple’s proprietary operating system and just over 6% use Google’s.
At this time, Microsoft has not specified which manufacturers are including the Copilot button on their computers, apart from Microsoft’s own premium Surface devices. It has been announced that some of these companies will showcase their new models at the upcoming CES technology exhibition in Las Vegas.