Despite it nominally being a Surface-centric keynote, Microsoft sure spent a lot of time talking about AI during its annual event on Thursday. "We believe it has the potential to help you be more knowledgeable, more productive, more creative, more connected to the people and things around you," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the assembled crowd of reporters. "We think there's also an opportunity beyond work and life to have one experience that works across your entire life."
To that end, Microsoft announced that its Copilot AI, which currently exists in various iterations in the Edge browser, Microsoft 365 platform and Windows, will be bundled into a single, unified and ubiquitous generative AI assistant across all of Microsoft's products — from Powerpoint to Teams.
"It's kind of like your PC now it's kind of becoming your CP. We believe Copilot will fundamentally transform the relationship with technology and user in a new era of personal computing, the age of Copilots," Nadella said. He also noted that the new AI will also have the "power to harness all your work data and intelligence," inferring that the system will be tunable to a customer's personal data silo.
One example of that provided during the event would be using Copilot on your laptop to pull data from your phone. You can ask Copilot to find your flight information, which it can pull from your phone's text messages or Bing Chat history (or wherever the data might be hiding), and then subsequently upsell you on stage plays happening during your trip and assist you with those ticket purchases. Remember, the point of all of this exists specifically to get you to buy more stuff.
The updated AI will offer a number of features and functions that we've already seen in other rival systems, like being able to shop for clothing based on a picture of them with Microsoft Shopping with AI, a la Google Lens, or have it summarize the contents of complicated email chains, a la ChatGPT. "Now you can copy, paste and do," Carmen Zlateff, VP of Product Management, told the crowd. What's more, the existing Bing Image Creator is scheduled to be upgraded to the new DALL-E 3 model soon.
A demo video played during the event also showed people using the AI to organize their desktop windows, generate Spotify playlists and remove photo backgrounds on command, similar to Google's Magic Eraser. One handy feature, especially for those of you with school-aged kids, is the new Windows Ink Anywhere. With the Surface's stylus in hand you'll be able to write in any textbox across the Windows OS. As my colleague Devindra Hardawar explained in our liveblog, "With math, you can write complex equations into the field and get a solution. You can also use your pen to snip a photo of a math problem, which pushes Copilot to solve it." The system will even be able to explain its reasoning in solving those equations.
It will roll out on September 26, "informed by what you're doing on your PC," Yusuf Mehdi, CVP Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, said on stage. The AI will arrive as part of the new Windows 11 release, which Medhi confirmed will "have over 150 new features and be the biggest update since it was first released."
Microsoft has been at the forefront of the generative AI revolution since the debut of ChatGPT last November. The company has spent years and millions of dollars in R&D working on the technology, including purchasing GitHub in 2019 and dramatically expanding its ongoing partnership with OpenAI that past January.
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