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Microsoft Debuts ‘Copilot+’ PCs with AI Features

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Microsoft on Monday 20th May, 2024 introduced a new category of personal computers with advanced AI capabilities, aiming to integrate emerging technologies into its products and compete with rivals Alphabet and Apple. 

At an event on its Redmond, Washington campus, CEO Satya Nadella unveiled the “Copilot+” PCs, which will be available from various manufacturers including Acer and Asustek Computer.

These new AI-enhanced computers, starting at $1,000 and shipping on June 18, are designed to handle more AI tasks without relying on cloud data centers. 

A standout feature, “Recall,” allows the PCs to track all user activities, from web browsing to voice chats, creating a searchable history.

Microsoft showcased the Copilot voice assistant acting as a real-time virtual coach during a “Minecraft” game. Yusuf Mehdi, head of consumer marketing, projected that 50 million AI PCs would be purchased in the next year, highlighting the enhanced AI capabilities as a major upgrade incentive.

Global PC shipments fell by about 15% to 242 million last year, according to Gartner, suggesting that Microsoft’s new category could make up a significant portion of future sales. Analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies noted the challenge of convincing users of the new devices’ value.

The “Copilot+” PCs mark a new marketing category for Microsoft, reminiscent of the “Ultrabook” campaign launched by Intel in 2011 to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air. Microsoft also announced that GPT-4, the latest from ChatGPT maker OpenAI, will soon be available as part of Copilot.

In addition to the Copilot+ PCs, Microsoft introduced new Surface Pro tablets and Surface Laptops featuring Qualcomm chips based on Arm Holdings’ architecture. A new technology called Prism was also introduced to help software written for Intel and AMD chips run on Arm-based chips.

Microsoft demonstrated the new devices against Apple products, showing Adobe photo editing software running faster on the Microsoft device. Apple, earlier this month, introduced an AI-focused chip expected to be used in future laptops.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips, which include a neural processing unit for accelerating AI applications like Copilot, were also highlighted. Microsoft held the event a day before its annual developer conference, emphasizing its strategy to maintain an early lead in AI tools through its partnership with OpenAI, outpacing Alphabet in the competitive landscape.

Last week, OpenAI and Google showcased advanced AI technologies, highlighting the rapid evolution and intense competition in the field. Google’s new generative AI features for its search engine further underline the growing emphasis on AI across tech giants.

Apple has put pressure on Windows PC makers with its custom Arm-based chips, providing Macs with superior battery life and performance. Microsoft’s collaboration with Qualcomm, which began in 2016 to move Windows to Arm’s chip designs, is set to see other chip designers like Nvidia entering the Arm-based PC chip market. Check out this status by Satya Nadella today

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