The introduction of Microsoft’s Copilot key marks the initial significant alteration to Windows keyboards in three decades


Microsoft wants to usher in the “AI PC era” by 2024, and they’re starting this off with a big change to the keyboard layout on new laptops and PCs. A new Copilot key that is integrated into a number of Microsoft partner devices allows quick access to the AI-powered Windows Copilot experience right from the keyboard. The most significant change to the Windows PC keyboard design in almost thirty years is represented by this Copilot key. Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer Products, Yusuf Mehdi, muses, “We introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard almost 30 years ago, empowering users worldwide to engage with Windows.” We view this as yet another transformative milestone in our Windows journey, where Copilot serves as the gateway to the world of AI on PCs. Long used as a companion to the Windows key for many years, the menu key (also called the application key) is scheduled to be replaced by the recently released Copilot key.

On most keyboards, it is positioned next to the alt key on the right. However, its exact location may differ depending on the manufacturer and region. Interestingly, it’s located in the same spot where Microsoft first introduced its Office key on its own keyboards in 2019. The Copilot key primarily functions as a direct launcher for the Windows Copilot feature built into Windows 11. This feature presents a chatbot that functions similarly to ChatGPT and can answer questions and carry out tasks in a Windows environment. If Windows Copilot isn’t available in your area, you can use Windows Search by pressing the Copilot key. At this time, the Copilot key only serves as a launch key; unlike the multipurpose Windows key, which can be used to access the Start menu or combined with other keys to create a variety of Windows shortcuts. It’s unclear what Microsoft intends to do with regard to possible future features, like allowing the Copilot key to be used in conjunction with other keys.

Microsoft has decided to hold off on disclosing which OEMs will be using the Copilot key, saving these announcements for the Consumer Electronics Show the following week and possibly other occasions. According to Mehdi, the Copilot key will be unveiled on brand-new Windows 11 PCs in association with ecosystem partners. It should be available from later this month through spring. This includes the forthcoming Surface devices’ introduction of the Copilot key. Microsoft is reportedly planning to release updated Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 models in the spring. It has now been officially confirmed that Surface devices come with a dedicated Copilot key, as was previously reported. Microsoft seems to have heavily integrated Copilot into a number of areas during 2023, and the new Copilot key is a part of more significant AI-driven Windows 2024 updates. According to Yusuf Mehdi, Windows will become more intelligent and personalized in the future, and artificial intelligence (AI) will permeate all aspects of Windows, including hardware, silicon integration, and system functionalities. He believes that this change will simplify as well as improve and magnify the computing experiences of users, declaring 2024 to be the year of the AI-powered PC.

Microsoft is working on a Windows “refresh” that will incorporate AI into its various software products and services and add new AI features. Furthermore, Microsoft’s recent rebranding of Edge as the “AI browser” indicates that the company is committed to continuous and broad advancements in AI, implying that it will continue to prioritize AI integration into its products.

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