Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs act like a second brain

Microsoft Surface Copilot+ PCs
Image: Microsoft.

Doubling down on AI computing, Microsoft has introduced Copilot+ PCs, designed to be the “fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built”.

Like many of this year’s computers, the goal is to handle local AI workloads even more efficiently. Microsoft touted instant image generation and accessibility as big benefits of its evolved Copilot AI assistant platform.

Built with Qualcomm Snapdragon X chips, Microsoft went as far as suggesting its Copilot+ PCs outperformed a 15-inch M3 MacBook Air. One of the biggest differences between computers now and devices from several years ago is the addition of neural processing units (NPUs) as part of the system on a chip (SoC).

According to Microsoft, its new PCs reach more than 40 trillion operations per second (TOPS), a common metric used to measure AI performance. In practice, this means more bandwidth to tackle local tasks, instead of relying on cloud servers.

What does a Copilot+ PC actually do?

So far, most AI workloads have relied on large language models running on the cloud. ChatGPT is one of the more well-known examples, requiring an internet connection for most uses. Local NPU benefits to date include better performance and efficiency when blurring backgrounds in video meetings and noise cancellation.

Now, Microsoft promises much more functionality with its Copilot+ PCs. The company revealed a feature called “Recall” that acts as a device-wide history tool. You can use it to scrub through a timeline of your computer use or search for specific files, emails, and websites you previously accessed.

Copilot+ recall
Image: Microsoft.

Recall tracks everything you do on your device to generate this searchable history. At a glance, it sounds scary – Microsoft promises you can customise the feature to not track specific tasks or anything you don’t want a history of. Do with that what you will.

Copilot+ PCs also bring more AI image generation functionality on-device. Via Paint and Photos, you can edit images on the fly, making tweaks without waiting for a response from an external server.

Photo and video editors are also set to benefit from increased AI performance. Across apps like DaVinci Resolve, CapCut, and the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft claims that subject isolation and background removal are even quicker to process.

More support for live captions was arguably the best feature shown. Generating live and pre-recorded audio into subtitles, it’s a big accessibility boost. It also supports translation between more than 40 languages.

Copilot+ live caption
Image: Microsoft.

Even the base Copilot assistant experience gets an upgrade. It’ll soon run on OpenAI’s new GPT-4o model, bringing more voice functionality to the feature.

Which devices are included?

Copilot+ PCs don’t just refer to Microsoft-made devices. There is a new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, but Microsoft it also expanding its Snapdragon-powered ecosystem to the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

Microsoft’s website includes more details on its latest platform and upcoming devices. With Qualcomm on board, it kickstarts even more competition between Intel, AMD, and Apple for AI PC dominance.

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