Windows keyboards get their biggest change for 30 years – a new Copilot AI key

Copilot keyboard button
The Copilot button might look a bit like this (Image credit: Microsoft)

It's no secret that Microsoft is betting big on artificial intelligence, most recently launching mobile app versions of its Copilot AI bot. Now Microsoft has announced its latest AI innovation: a dedicated Copilot key on Windows 11 keyboards.

That's right, you'll soon be able to launch Copilot as easily as you can hit Esc or Backspace. The new key should "empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily," writes Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi in a blog post.

"The introduction of the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades," continues Mehdi. "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."

You'll start to see keyboards with the Copilot key on them at CES 2024 in the coming days, and Microsoft says that its manufacturing partners are on board with the move. Future Surface computers will also come with a Copilot key.

Which key does it replace?

In Microsoft's preview video, the Copilot button appears to the right of the right-hand Alt key. On a full-size Surface keyboard, right now that spot is taken up by the right-hand Windows key (one of two on the keyboard); on a Surface keyboard cover, the spot is currently held by the key that duplicates a right-click.

It's not clear if that will be the final location of the Copilot key, but it seems likely. Third-party keyboard manufacturers are under no obligation to follow suit of course – but, as with the Windows key, they most probably will.

You can already access Copilot in both Windows 11 and Windows 10, via the taskbar or the Start menu, or by pressing Win+C on the keyboard. The next time you upgrade to a new Windows 11 laptop or desktop, you'll only need a single key press.

If you're a fan of AI, you've got a lot more of it to look forward to this year: the big players in the field are no doubt going to continue to rapidly improve their products, and we're expecting a stack of AI features to be included in the Samsung Galaxy S24 flagship phones due to launch later this month.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.