For the first time in 30 years, your keyboard is about to be changed

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The Copilot key shown on a white keyboard.

Microsoft clearly wants to make Copilot an absolute Windows staple, and to achieve that, it’s making a major change to upcoming laptops and standalone keyboards. Beginning in February, new keyboards will come with a dedicated Copilot key to make the AI easier to access.

Copilot is Microsoft’s all-in-one AI solution that’s already available to many Windows users. The AI can help you navigate Windows, analyze documents, or write emails, and that’s just the tip of the AI iceberg that Microsoft has been heavily promoting since Copilot’s  introduction in 2023. Now, with its very own key on the keyboard, Copilot will be even more seamlessly integrated into the lives of Windows users.

The new Copilot key will be located just next to the right-hand alt key, and it seems to be replacing the application key that’s currently nestled between the alt and the ctrl keys on that side of the keyboard. Pressing it will launch Copilot on compatible PCs, but if the AI helper is not available, it should bring up Windows Search.

The addition of a dedicated Copilot key may be a small change, but its significance cannot be overlooked. This is the first major change to the Windows keyboard that Microsoft has made in almost 30 years, and that was when it added the Windows key and the aforementioned menu/application key. Both are now mainstays on any Windows keyboard.

“The introduction of the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades. We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily,” said Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president and consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft.

Of course, keyboards have evolved independently over that time. We now have dedicated keys for things like music playback or RGB lighting controls. However, this change, spearheaded by Microsoft, may end up as universal as the addition of the Windows key. Not every keyboard lets you pause your songs at the press of a key, but perhaps, in the future, every keyboard will let you easily summon “your everyday AI companion.”

The new Copilot key will begin to appear on future Surface devices, as well as laptops and keyboards made by Microsoft’s partners, starting in February of this year. Microsoft hasn’t disclosed how many new models will incorporate the change to begin with, but it said we’ll find out more during CES 2024 next week.

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