Microsoft would like 2024 to be the “year of the AI PC” and to put a point on that, the company today announced a new key for Copilot — that is, a physical key that will soon make its way to your keyboard and join the Windows key, together with its friends the Control key, Alt and that Insert key you’ve never purposely used. Based on the image Microsoft sent over, it looks like the new Copilot key will replace the right Control key on the standard PC keyboard, where it will slot in between the Alt key and the left arrow key.
“The introduction of the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades,” Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, Executive Vice President & Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, writes in today’s announcement. “We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily. The Copilot key joins the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day.”
In regions where Copilot is not available, the Copilot key will launch Windows Search. The first keyboards with the new key will launch at this year’s CES in Las Vegas and will likely start shipping in late February.
If you needed any more evidence that Microsoft is all in on the AI hype train, the fact that it now, for the first time since the Windows logo key appeared on a Microsoft Natural Keyboard in 1994, adding a new button is all you need to know.
Microsoft, together with its chip partners like AMD and Intel, hopes that a lot of the AI inferencing will soon be offloaded onto local silicon, which will then “unlock new AI experiences on the Windows PC.” Never given to hyperbole, Microsoft notes that it sees “this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC.”
Thankfully, your old keyboards will continue to function just like before — and if your keyboard allows, you may even be able to remap your right Control key to function like the Copilot key. Or you can ignore the whole thing, of course.