Microsoft is cementing its big AI assistant bet by introducing a dedicated Copilot key to Windows PC keyboards this year. The new key will invoke the Copilot generative AI tool on Windows 11 and 10 devices where it’s enabled.
On machines without access to Copilot, the key will fall back to opening Windows Search. But its prime purpose is accelerating access to Copilot, which Microsoft has aggressively pushed out across its software stack over the past year.
The Windows maker demoed the Copilot key positioned between the arrow key cluster and right Alt button on a keyboard. The exact placement may vary across keyboard sizes and layouts, but it generally occupies space otherwise reserved for supplemental keys like menu, right Ctrl, an extra Windows key, etc.
Microsoft confirmed the key isn’t mandatory for OEMs yet. But it expects to require Copilot keys on Windows 11 keyboards from major manufacturers over time.
This shows Microsoft’s drive to transform AI assistants like Copilot into core PC capabilities. It draws parallels to the original Windows key that device makers were mandated to incorporate starting in 1994.
If Copilot fails to gain traction, the key could end up a vestigial signature of 2024 Windows laptops. But Microsoft is betting heavily that AI anchors PC experiences moving forward.