Engadget Podcast: Microsoft’s Surface and Windows head on Copilot+ AI PCs

Microsoft made some unusually major moves ahead of its Build developer conference: It announced a new Copilot+ initiative for powerful AI PCs, which will be led by the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. These machines are powered by Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X Plus and Elite chips, and they come with a special version of Windows 11 optimized for Arm mobile chips and AI. Basically, Microsoft is doing for PCs what Apple did with its M-series Macs four years ago.

In this bonus episode, Devindra chats with Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft's head of Windows and Devices, about the new Surface devices and the Copilot+ PC initiative. We still don't know how well these new machines will perform, but it sounds like Microsoft has certainly heard our complaints about Arm-based Windows devices.


Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcast, Engadget News!

Devindra: Hey everyone, this is Devindra here. I had a chance to chat with Pavan Davuluri, the head of Microsoft Windows and Devices, basically the team in charge of Surface and Windows. And we talked about the new Copilot Plus Surface PCs, the Surface Pro and the Surface Laptop, and the whole new Copilot Plus initiative in general.

It's kind of a big move for Microsoft. We've reviewed quite a few of the ARM based Windows PCs and you know, they have not worked out so well. So I think this could be different, at least from the benchmarks we've seen. We still need to test these things, but I think Pavan is also aware of Microsoft's own issues around this kind of hardware and they're aware that this seems like a big push for them and a good opportunity to kind of shift to a mobile platform, just like Apple did.

So anyway, here's my chat with Pavan.

Devindra: Pavan, thank you so much for speaking with us, how do you feel about these new devices and Copilot Plus as an initiative?

Pavan: I'm excited. It's been a multi-year journey for our team. So I'm excited to share. I think the work that we've been on for some time now. And I'm also excited because I think it's the start of a journey for us.

So we had an opportunity to tell our story, bring a bunch of product and value out there and then I'm excited to see what people will do with it.

Devindra: Awesome. I remember when there were rumblings about this I think for the past year we were hearing that Microsoft was doing something maybe with ARM chips again and with Qualcomm and we saw the new Snapdragon benchmarks I think last fall.

And we started getting a little excited and also a little worried, because personally, I have like a love or hate relationship with Windows on ARM, I reviewed the first Surface with Windows RT, it was, it was a worthy attempt, and then most recently we've seen the Pro X devices and all those things, and recently I did the Pro 9 with 5G, and even then I was like, I don't, I just had a lot of issues with it.

So, what did you guys learn from your past experiences with Windows on ARM that you brought into this one?

Pavan: That's a good question. I do remember your thoughts on them at the time, and we actually did pay attention to them yeah, as a team, collectively. There's a couple of things I think that we learned that were meaningful.

One that I think we've addressed in the conversation. Current generation of the Snapdragon X parts that Qualcomm team has delivered. Performance matters. And so one of the foundational investments we've made in much more performance CPUs, both in terms of the CPU energy efficiency, but also peak performance of these CPUs.

We love multithreaded performance because it matters to the operating system, but we wanted to make sure we had good sustained and peak performance. I think that's a significant improvement from our previous generations that we, you know, we learned about. The second big thing was the work that we did on what we're calling Prism, the new ARM emulator.

We, we certainly learned through that journey that emulation performance matters both in terms of the efficiency of the emulation itself and the breadth of catalog compatibility with emulation. So that was a big lesson learned. I think we've made good progress. The third thing really and hence it's been a multi year journey, is making sure we have great performance.

Native arm app experiences for us. And so we have worked across the breadth of the windows ecosystem to go deliver on great app experiences, and we are very excited that our collective ecosystem partners across a range of top app categories. Now, those apps are native. And so whether you look at you know, Disney and Spotify had one in the spectrum, it'll be photoshopped or, you know, your most used browsers.

I think at this point in time, Mhm. Certainly they're all native. Our ecosystem is certainly committed. And then the big thing for me was the biggest developer on Windows is Microsoft. Microsoft bringing native apps has been a huge thing for us. And so I'm super proud of the Edge team having a native version now for us.

The M365 app estate really is native. A bunch of our security products are native. Your inbox apps, your calculator is native. And so, yeah. I think those are big lessons learned and be a problem to bear.

Devindra: Gotcha. I will let you know, like, I'm personally, maybe I'm weird about this, I'm more interested in what's going on with Windows on ARM than the AI stuff.

I think the AI stuff is cool, has a lot of potential, but we've lived through Windows on ARM for a long time. Like, oh, this is finally here, you've got good battery life, you've got a lot of stuff. Can you tell me, like, these improvements, will they trickle down to the existing devices? Will the Surface Pro 9 5G, the Pro X, will they get benefits from these changes to Windows?

Pavan: Some benefits will trickle down to those. Some are going to be platform dependent, and so a lot of the work that we did was really are learning to make the OS and the silicon platform a deeper, more synergistic vehicle for delivery. And so, in those instances, the OS improvements are tied to the platform themselves, but not all, some of them.

And we continue to look at ways of finding ways Find a way to, you know, bring them back to our broader ARM install base but I think we're going to prioritize the Snapdragon X series going forward. Gotcha.

Devindra: Is there a new name for what you're doing with this Windows? Microsoft has been very, very big on different Windows names, like RT and we, we've gone through a couple.

Are you guys calling this anything differently? Referring what this Windows on ARM is versus the old stuff?

Pavan: It's Windows 11. Okay. And in, you know, in my mind's eye, there isn't, there's only one flair of Windows, it's Windows 11. And that's true for consumers Devindra, it's true for our commercial customers, it's true for developers, in my mind, you know, importantly.

So we don't want people to have to think about all of that, we want them to be able to build apps for us to be predictable in certain set of ways that matter to them, and then unlock the ability to build devices and, you know, people have choice on the kinds of products and platforms they want to build.

Devindra: Gotcha. And these first batch of devices, the Surface Pro, interesting, you guys aren't using the numbers anymore. I see Surface Pro 11th generation is how you're referring to it in documents, and the new Surface laptop, these are Qualcomm powered machines right now, but we're also, you talked with Intel, you talked with AMD, they were here, or they at least said that they have hardware coming out.

Can you tell us how that will fit into the Surface lineup, or are we just thinking about Qualcomm Surface devices for now?

Pavan: Our partnerships with AMD and Intel have been longstanding indeed. Certainly for the Windows ecosystem at large, the operating system itself, but also on Surface. And I think we will make decisions on what silicon we use in Surface products based on how do we best build a system that serves end customers and certainly represents innovation in the Windows ecosystem.

And we look forward to working with all of them.

Devindra: Gotcha. Yeah. And you guys also have a lot of partner hardware coming out, which I was surprised to see. Normally, when this happens, you have your devices and you're like, Hey, everybody, follow along. But you have them now. You have all the major manufacturers.

You have new machines coming. Can you talk about the process of basically coordinating that? Because I feel like that makes Copilot Plus feel like a true initiative and not just Microsoft putting a flag in the ground saying, Hey, everybody follow us, right?

Pavan: You nailed it. I think that is exactly the intent.

And that is the, I think first I will say I am Deeply grateful for the partnerships across the windows ecosystem. So you saw the major partners out there today. They have been with us again on a multi year basis on this journey. For sure. I think for me, having been on the windows team and in the past in the surface team for some time, I think the level of partnership we have seen from them and from us is the thing that I have not seen before.

I guess it's probably the simplest way to describe it. They have been great in terms of Making sure we were building product with. the value prop that actually mattered and delivered to them. That was, you know, a great place up front where they were part of the product making journey with us. We've had a deep co engineering cycle, because building these great systems at the end of the day does require both the hardware platform, the silicon, certainly the operating system, app layers to all be equipped.

This is sort of the idea of the system configurations that they talked about. And so we went through, you know, a whole generation of co engineering with them together. And then now, when it comes to going to market, and telling our story, and landing our customers through it, I find that we are deeply aligned together.

Because I think, to your point, whether it's performance, and, you know, fundamentals that we can go deliver on, or unlocking new AI things, it's a thing that, you know, it captures all of our imagination, and all of our mind share. It's a thing I think they're as excited about as we are. And you're right. It doesn't, I don't think it's a meaningful exercise across the industry if our partners are not there with us.

I'm actually just grateful that our collective team, our marketing team specifically our field team, we were able to just, and engineering, of course, you know, pull them all together. It was great.

Devindra: I think it's kind of interesting because Apple kind of did this four years ago, too. Like, we all covered the, the M series chips and everything, but they have the advantage you guys don't, right?

Like, they own the hardware, they own the software. They could be like This is a big ship, but we're just turning. We can just do it. You guys can't. You have to work with your partners to kind of coordinate all that. How long have you guys been working on, like, making this transition?

Pavan: To your point earlier ARM itself is not a new construct for us.

This particular, and we've been at it for many generations, as you know, this particular iteration has been a few years for us. I'm, you know, I'm almost, I'm drawing a blank and where do I draw the line or the starting line for the exercise? Because some of these things start as a sort of an organic, you know, thought process.

Devindra: I feel like the Pro X was this, was the point where you guys were like, Hey, here's a premium surface that's thinner, lighter, you Here's a vision of what the surface can be and then kind of the design follow that. So were you thinking about it by that point? That was three or four years ago.

Pavan: Yeah. Yeah, we were definitely thinking about it in that window of time.

Devindra: Yeah.

Pavan: Yeah. I would also say the big thing in addition, I mean, the thing that we really learned, I would say 2020, 2021, is thinking of it from a system standpoint and then adding AI as a first order construct from Silicon through, you know, platform level components, the OS to the shell layer to app experiences.

Yeah.

Devindra: I think something I say often, and don't take this too harshly, but I think timing has never been Microsoft's strong suit. I think Microsoft tends to deploy things, maybe a little too early. I saw, I was, I was growing up when web TV was a thing. I remember pocket PC devices. I remember Windows Mobile.

I had a Zune. I had multiple Zunes. So, I The timing, it seems interesting how quickly you guys jumped on AI last year with Bing search and everything and with the launch of co pilots, it does seem like you guys are kind of taking a leadership, I guess, role in timing for AI because everybody kind of had to respond to what you were doing.

Can you talk about just how that feels? Does it feel different to you for how Microsoft is approaching new technology?

Pavan: It does. It does feel different for sure. I personally find it Pretty exciting and energizing at the same time. It's a little humbling as well I think to your point there is we certainly want to be in a place where we have enough composition and you know meaningful value and completed execution, you know quality of the product itself. And so it certainly puts pressure on that to make sure we are showing up in a leadership time frame with a great product But it is a different feeling for sure and I'm kind of excited about it because I do think we have a bunch of things we have learned in the last 18 months with the starting with the Bing work that happened last year.

Through the M365 co pilot work that has happened and now we're calling the Windows co pilot runtime on device models and Windows 11. Where we have a ton of great lessons learned across the company that is a kind of a flywheel and accelerator for us. Responsible AI is one good example. That team has learned a lot.

They are now an integral part of how we think about it. Same thing applies for app teams. You know, they're collectively in an AI first world. And so it's a lot easier for us to go orchestrate work across the company.

Devindra: Can you talk more about the idea of responsible AI and how you guys are thinking about it?

Because the Recall feature seems very cool. Seems like something a lot of people could use. And then I think, like, oh man, this is, the way people are worried about people snooping in their browser history, right? There's the meme, if I die, please delete my browser history. Stuff like that. And recall is just like, oh, you've created this thing that will see everything we're doing online.

How are you guys thinking about the usability aspect of something like that, and also the data privacy aspects of it?

Pavan: Yeah, it's a, it's a really good question, and I think it's important. For us, thinking about earning permission and trust through, you know, security and privacy, I think, was front and center in our mind as product makers as we were building that feature, Devindra.

If you, you know, when you start playing with these Copilot Plus PCs, you'll see that as you go set up the PC for the first time, we are very deliberate in taking customers through a user experience, you know, onboarding journey that makes it very clear for them on what that experience is like. And And making sure we're educating them and then giving them control is fundamental.

So in the onboarding experience. The second big thing is in the ongoing use of the product, we make it simple and intuitive so you are in control and you understand what is happening. And so I think as you get comfortable over time you know, you either give the experience more or less license. And so you're always in control.

And we do that with the task bar and keeping the feature front and center with you for recall. And the third thing, I think we want to take the stress out of making it feel like you made a decision that you can't undo. And so we give you enough control in the feature in the arc of time. And so you can, you know, delete, you know, instances from the past for instance, and so on.

So we're using a lot of constructs that people are familiar with, with, with data that it's already, you know, You know, the content rather that they're sharing. Finally kind of an important decision we've made. For those PCs is the data, the semantic index is stored locally on your PC. And that is a thing that we feel confidence in being able to stand by.

And I think at the end of the day that is a foundational component of saying we're not moving that data set to the cloud, we're not training on it, for instance. There's no other framework that has programmatic access to it. And so so I think those are, you know, first step in the journey for sure.

But those are some core components in making sure we meet those expectations.

Devindra: How are you guys thinking about recall when it comes to like multi user systems or shared systems? Because, hey, if everybody's using a different account, then problem solved. That's pretty easy. Everybody logs in. But for a lot of family computers, it's just kind of sitting there and people run up to it and do their work.

How does recall work in a shared user environment like that?

Pavan: It follows a user account. And so to the extent there's multiple users, you have multiple indices. If there's one account that's shared by multiple people, that's a shared index. Hmm.

Devindra: Gotcha. I guess I think that makes sense. Can we talk about the devices specifically?

So first of all, interesting that you guys kind of did the step back from the numbers just Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. It always feels interesting when a company does that, like you're kind of. Stake and claim. This is different. Yeah, point in time there. The actual hardware doesn't seem that different.

You know, the Pro I've always liked is a, like, very sleek, light device. Thinner bezels on both. Are there, are there hardware changes that you want to bring up? I know OLED is now an option on the Pro. Yeah. Any in the quad cameras, the quad HD cameras, very nice. Anything else you want to highlight in the new models?

Pavan: First of all, your point, I think your observation is right on the money for us. We think co pilot plus PCs are the start of a new generation. And so we did want to put a marker for these devices represent that new class for us. And, and like you said earlier, it's not just Surface. There's a whole ecosystem that believes in that.

One of my favorite personal features that I love on the Pro is the detachable keyboard. I do love that. That It was, you know, when we talk to customers, the number of times people ask us for that feature without quite knowing that they're asking us for it yeah, yeah, the design team in my mind, sort of, you know, going through intuitive understanding of how people work that flexibility and freedom is probably the Kind of the iconic thing that we've introduced this time around that has been in the work for some time.

It's not easy because you want to deliver on great battery life on that little keyboard. It's gotten thinner, it's gotten more stiff and so you still have to have a battery and have great battery life on it. It has to be reliable, you know, because it's your keyboard experience. On the laptop there are a bunch of things that I love.

You, you observation on the bezels getting thinner and lighter. I love bezels, yeah. Thin bezels, yeah. Thin bezels. I continue to love the 3x2. I feel like in the form factor it gives me the most bang for buck in terms of just workable real estate on the machine. I personally love the the user physical design of the product with ports and accessibility.

One of the things that is awesome about Windows is, I think, what people expect by way of I. O. and port interop, and so, on my laptop, at least, I have multiple 4K monitors on the screen. That is a thing I can kind of go after. So there's lots.

Devindra: I do want to talk about the Flex keyboard, because it seems like, again, Microsoft does this thing where it's like, ah, so close.

So close. It's a great idea. It is $350. And that is just... you're killing me. And then you have the bundle at $450. Okay, fine. I can accept that, although I think that's a little too expensive. But I also know you guys are keeping the existing Pro covers around. At their existing prices. This felt like a great opportunity for Microsoft to at least put a keyboard with the Surface.

And I think, Okay. Ever since the Surface RT, I feel like I've been asking this question every year for the past 10 plus years. I'm going to keep asking it. What is the thinking about just putting a keyboard, like including a keyboard with the Surface? Because I think about these things differently than the iPad.

An iPad is a tablet. You're going to use a tablet first, maybe occasionally with a keyboard. You guys keep talking about the Surface as a PC, as a Windows machine. Yes. Nobody wants a Windows machine without a keyboard. So, I don't understand the justification of not at least bundling something with it.

Pavan: You know, so first, your dataset comment is absolutely right.

We, we have, you know, Most customers attach a keyboard to to the device itself. One thing we do have is flexibility of choice in the keyboards themselves, and so bundles and attach wise is freedom and flexibility across different configurations of keyboards and such. But I hear you on the desire to have them attached.

You are not alone, Devindra. And I'm sure the team will find a way, as best as we can, to make that happen when we can. The opening price point comment you made, I think that's a great point as well. And we are looking to learn through this iteration. We'll look at where customers are, where we are with demand, how the Flex Keyboard performs across countries, and We'll certainly account for it as we go forward.

Devindra: I would, I definitely can't wait to see that drop in price. It just feels like whenever you guys talk about surface pricing in particular, it's like, well, yes, that's the tablet. So, yes, it's $999, but you have to add another $140 or $180 or $350 for the Flex to actually make it a useful computer. So, I feel like that just fudges with the way we talk about pricing around these things.

So, I'm hoping Microsoft is just aware. And I feel like, I don't know, I feel like it would be easier to talk about these things with consumers and to sell them on it if they didn't have to think about like, oh, I got to add this to the price. I have to buy a Surface Pen. I have to do all this other stuff.

It seems like the Surface experience has always been a little too complicated rather than You buy a MacBook, you know,

Pavan: The $999 comment versus a MacBook. Specifically, the surface laptops are $999 is a full laptop experience. And it is a, you know, I think, in fact, there's more in that laptop feature set wise, performance wise, touch screens and so on.

That is an easy AP compare. You're right. Surface Pro is a unique two in one device for sure. And you do need the attach for the peripherals. Yep.

Devindra: Okay. So we're here. We're also talking about Copilot Plus and all the AI stuff. I'm wondering, you know, we seek recall. We see Windows Studio FX and you guys are showing off some partner stuff.

How useful is that within the next year? How useful are the AI features for people within the next year on these existing machines?

Pavan: The Copilot+ machines. Yes. Okay, great. So you're gonna, if you're at Build tomorrow, you're going to hear a lot more about us talking about the breadth of the ecosystem there.

Let me maybe think about it in a couple of slices. So obviously Copilot Plus PCs now The operating system itself has a bunch of new AI superpowers, for lack of a better word. And those are built into the operating system, and they're powered by these models. There are a set of Microsoft Inbox apps that will take advantage of these capabilities.

That can, that'll show up in a variety of different ways. We talked about painted photos, essentially. Those are using on device image gen models, essentially diffusion class models. You saw live translation. That is a way to go think about, you know, communication. Certainly, we've made Windows Studio effects available in the Service Pro X, I think, generation of time to start with.

We've built on that. You'll, you'll see us doubling down on that. You'll get a lot more by way of real time camera and audio stacks getting enhanced and supercharged by AI. And then we introduced this notion of a Windows Copilot runtime, because we now do have a targeted environment for developers to go use to build AI apps on top of them.

In fact, I would tell you in my iteration now, I see more excitement from Windows developers, both web apps and, you know, native Windows apps, if you will. Excitement about adding AI capabilities, because we are now building the tools for them to get them access to the breadth of the ecosystem. And to do it in a way where you can either take advantage of it.

Like, you can get AI powers without having to have a bunch of, you know, AI scientists and model engineers and so on and so forth because we're building, you know, APIs and DDI interfaces that, you know, services built on top of the models that we have in box. So you don't have to be an AI person to take advantage of AI in your app.

We're also giving the other end of the spectrum. People can bring their own models. They can, you know, we have stores, infrastructure for deploying them, managing them. And so somebody wants to, you know, go build a, you know, rag vector index in Windows in the future. Absolutely impossible.

Devindra: Gotcha. I just want to take this audio file and dump it in Windows, have it edit the audio for me, get it podcast ready and transcribe it.

I want that. I hopefully, I'm hoping that comes soon. Feature noted.

Pavan: Okay. Love it.

Devindra: Thank you so much, Pavan.

Pavan: Devindra, a pleasure as always. I'm grateful for the time. Thank you.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/engadget-podcast-microsofts-surface-and-windows-head-on-copilot-ai-pcs-193938281.html?src=rss

The Morning After: Microsoft introduces its AI-centric Copilot+ PCs

Microsoft couldn’t wait until its Build conference today. It just revealed a bunch of new hardware and plans for Windows. Copilot+ PCs were the big announcement, designed to run generative AI processes locally instead of in the cloud. Of course, Microsoft had new Surface devices to showcase these features, but the usual PC suspects also have new laptops that meet the spec requirements — and include Copilot+ in their name for added chaos. The company also claims Copilot+ PCs are 58 percent faster than the M3-powered MacBook Air.

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We’ll drill into some other announcements down below.

— Mat Smith

Another patient will get Neuralink’s brain implant

Intel-powered Copilot+ PCs will be available this fall

Here are all of the just-announced Copilot+ PCs with Snapdragon X Chips

Volvo and Aurora introduce their first self-driving truck

​​You can get these reports delivered daily direct to your inbox. Subscribe right here!

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The new Surface Laptop is a redesigned PC with thinner bezels in 13.8- and 15-inch sizes and Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite chip. Microsoft says this is the brightest display it has ever shipped, at 600 nits, and the new Studio Camera is now in the bezel, so no visible notch.

Will the Snapdragon X Elite give better performance? Expect potent battery life. Microsoft claims the 15-inch model will run for up to 22 hours on a single charge while playing videos locally and up to 15 hours while actively browsing the web. We’ve got some hands-on impressions right here, but we’ve got reservations. Devices like the Surface Pro 9, which ran Windows on Arm, still didn’t feel as fast or responsive compared to their more traditional x86-based counterparts.

Continue reading.

Microsoft says it has rebuilt core components of Windows 11 to better support Arm-based hardware and AI. That includes a new kernel, compiler and, most importantly, an emulator named Prism, for running older x86 and x64 apps. Thanks to a powerful new Neural Processing Unit (NPU) in the Snapdragon X Elite chips, Copilot+ PCs can run more than 40 trillion operations per second, a measure of a chip’s AI performance, more than four times the performance of today’s AI PCs.

Continue reading.

This sounds very good. Microsoft also announced Recall, a new feature to make local Windows PC searches as quick and effective as web searches, tapping into AI to add more contextual search parameters. Microsoft product manager Caroline Hernandez gave the example of searching for a blue dress on Pinterest using a Windows PC with Recall. She can search the Recall timeline for ‘blue dress’ (using her voice), which pulls all of her recent searches, saving her from having to sift through browser history. She further refined the query with more specific details like ‘blue pantsuit with sequined lace for Abuelita,’ and Rewind delivered relevant results. Microsoft says it can start with exact information or vague contextual clues to find what you want — and it’s apparently all done locally. It is, however, a Copilot+ exclusive.

Continue reading.

AI companies love to tap Scarlett Johansson’s star power, but this time it’s a bigger player in AI. Johansson accused OpenAI of copying her voice for one of the ChatGPT voice assistants, despite her denying the company permission to do so. Johansson’s statement on Monday came hours after OpenAI said it would no longer use the voice. “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers,” an OpenAI spokesperson said in a statement sent to Engadget. The Her actor said OpenAI only stopped using the voice after she hired legal counsel.

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-microsoft-introduces-its-ai-centric-copilot-pcs-111916490.html?src=rss

Intel-powered Copilot+ PCs will be available this fall

A gaggle of PC makers rolled out their first Copilot+ PCs on Monday, but they all run on Qualcomm silicon. Intel chimed in today to assure us that its Lunar Lake chips, the company’s first to support all the Copilot+ AI features, will arrive in Q3 2024.

Intel says more than 80 new laptops from over 20 hardware partners will begin shipping in time for the holidays. The PCs will add the new Copilot+ features, like Recall and Cocreator via a software update. (The company didn’t provide a specific window for those.) Intel expects to ship more than 40 million AI PC chips this year, which include an onboard neural processing unit (NPU) for generative AI features.

The chipmaker says Lunar Lake will have more than triple the AI performance of the current Meteor Lake models, supporting over 40 trillion NPU operations per second (TOPS).

“The launch of Lunar Lake will bring meaningful fundamental improvements across security, battery life, and more thanks to our deep co-engineering partnership with Intel,” Microsoft Windows and Devices VP Pavan Davuluri wrote in a press release. “We are excited to see Lunar Lake come to market with a 40+ TOPS NPU which will deliver Microsoft’s Copilot+ experiences at scale when available.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/intel-powered-copilot-pcs-will-be-available-this-fall-204049150.html?src=rss

AI isn’t the star of Microsoft’s Copilot+ PC push — improved Arm support is

What if you could run an entire Windows PC on a mobile Arm-based chip, bringing the power efficiency and thinner designs from smartphones and tablets to laptops? If you've been paying attention to Microsoft's PC strategy over the past two decades, this song probably sounds familiar. From the original Surface in 2012 (running Windows RT for Arm devices) to the recent Surface Pro 9 5G, Microsoft has chipped away at this dream, only to fail miserably every time. Now with its new Copilot+ PC initiative, which includes major upgrades in Windows for Arm systems and AI, Microsoft may finally have the answer to its mobile computing dreams.

Microsoft's portable PC ambitions didn't start with the Surface line: You can trace it back to Windows CE and Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs. Then there was the short-lived era of netbooks: tiny, cheap and under-powered laptops meant mainly for browsing the web. I'll admit, I loved many a netbook, but they couldn't compete with the rise of the iPhone, Android and tablets.

Timing has never been Microsoft's strongest point. While Apple can just re-orient its platforms around its own homegrown hardware and software to pull off a monumental feat, like the move towards its Arm-based M-series chips, Microsoft has to wait on its many partners. In the case of Copilot+, the program wouldn't have been possible before Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X Elite chips, or before developers were ready to build apps to take advantage of neural processing units (NPUs) for AI work.

"We engineered this update of Windows with the focus on AI and specifically AI inference on those devices, and [with] making sure we were taking full advantage of the Arm 64 instruction set," according to Microsoft’s head of Windows and Surface Pavan Davuluri in a briefing with media earlier this month. "[In] this updated Windows, we built a new compiler in Windows for this exercise. We have a new kernel in the operating system that is built on top of this compiler. We have new schedulers in Windows that are built for taking advantage of these workloads."

Davuluri also noted that there's a new driver compute model that better integrates neural engines into Windows, just like CPUs and GPUs. Those core Windows updates will be a major boon for AI hardware, undoubtedly, but they will also make the OS function far better on Arm chips than we've seen before. Microsoft says that more native Arm apps will be coming to Windows, including Spotify and over 400 apps from other developers. But the key upgrade, a new emulator that's 20 percent faster than its previous solution, and is said to be faster than Apple's Rosetta 2 emulator for M-series Macs.

"We made gains on the breadth and the reach of the emulator," Davuluri said, referring to the amount of apps that Prism works on. "When you combine the new prism emulator with simply the raw performance and improvement in [the Snapdragon X Elite] CPUs themselves, we're in a place where we have great native apps and we're also in a place where the breadth of the app catalog also has tremendous performance, comparable to the rest of the Windows estate today."

While I haven't been able to benchmark Copilot+ PCs yet, I've seen a few compelling demos that point to raw performance and battery life that’s similar to Apple's M3 chip. I'm just hoping the company can finally deliver a Windows on Arm experience that doesn't stink. After reviewing the Surface Pro 9 5G, which was slow and incompatible with many apps, I had given up on the idea of a decent Arm-based Windows PC entirely. But with revamped Surface devices, as well as partners like Dell, ASUS and HP jumping on the Copilot+ bandwagon, maybe Microsoft has finally crafted a decent mobile PC platform.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ai-isnt-the-star-of-microsofts-copilot-pc-push--improved-arm-support-is-190039699.html?src=rss

Microsoft Surface Pro Copilot+ hands-on: Slimmer bezels and AI smarts

Microsoft's new Surface Pro, its first hybrid Copilot+ PC tablet, doesn't look much different than its predecessors. It's still a sleek and sturdy tablet with a kickstand. But the screen looks a bit more impressive, thanks to slimmer bezels, and it's potentially more useful on the go when paired with the $350 Surface Pro Flex keyboard, which lets you type wirelessly. As a Copilot+ AI PC though, its true value lies under the hood, thanks to a 45TOPS neural processing unit in Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus chips.

Surface Pro Copilot+
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Without fully testing its AI capabilities, it's hard to make any final judgements on the Surface Pro just yet. Perhaps Microsoft's Recall feature, which can instantly retrieve anything you've done on your computer, could actually be useful. In a short demo, I was able to scrub through several days worth of PC usage, including doodles from people attending the launch event. Perhaps you'll find some value from the NPU-enabled features in Photoshop and other apps. But during my short hands-on session, there wasn't really much to see.

That's honestly a bit disappointing. This Surface Pro, which Microsoft is calling the 11th edition, was also an opportunity to rework the tablet's aging kickstand and overall design. Thinner screen bezels just aren't enough. The new Surface Pro Flex Keyboard is also surprisingly expensive at $350 ($450 when bundled with the Slim Pen). It's upgrades are useful: You can detach it from the Surface Pro and still keep typing away, and it also has a more modern haptic touchpad. But it's merely an optional upgrade, not a standard feature for the Surface Pro. The wireless typing experience was responsive, from my testing, but the Flex Pro Flex Keyboard also feels a bit flimsy on its own, without the weight of the tablet holding it down.

Microsoft's existing typing covers, the $140 Surface Pro Keyboard and the $180 Surface Pro Signature Keyboard, are still around and far more compelling for the price. This recent batch of computers was a perfect opportunity for the company to bundle a keyboard cover with the Surface Pro, but alas, that's still not happening. (I've been asking Microsoft about bundling a keyboard with its Surface tablets every year since they debuted — I guess I'll just have to keep asking.)

Surface Pro Copilot+
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The Surface Pro starts at $999 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus chip, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. You can also bump up to an OLED model which includes the Snapdragon X Elite chip for $1,500. That model can also be configured with up to 1TB of storage and 32GB of RAM. 

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-surface-pro-copilot-hands-on-slimmer-bezels-and-ai-smarts-185349396.html?src=rss

The Surface Pro Flex is Microsoft’s revamped keyboard for 2-in-1s

At its event today, Microsoft gave the redesigned Surface Pro's keyboard a makeover, adding improved stability, better haptics and even a bold font option for added readability. However, starting at $350, it won't come cheap. 

Available for pre-order today alongside Microsoft's revamped convertible tablet, the Surface Pro Flex keyboard features a familiar design but with a number of tweaks to make it more adaptable and accessible than before. Inside, carbon fiber supports deliver increased stability, which is an important change as the Flex can now be used when it's completely detached from a Surface. This means you can position it in all sorts of ways such as typing on your lap while the tablet sits on a nearby desk or table. There's also a new retractable riser on the bottom, so you can adjust the keyboard's angle when using it by itself. 

The new Surface Pro Flex keyboard features a larger touchpad with improved haptics, carbon fiber supports for added stability and the ability to function even when completely detached.
Microsoft

The Flex's touchpad is also 14 percent larger than before and features Microsoft's Precision Haptics to provide more detailed feedback and assist people with limited hand movement. Meanwhile, to support people with low vision, the keyboard will also be available with an optional bold key font. Finally, as we've seen on Microsoft's previous convertible keyboards, the Flex has a built-in magnetic charging slot for the Surface Slim Pen.

That said, it's important to point out that the Surface Pro Flex keyboard's $350 base price doesn't include the pen, so if you want one, that'll bring your total up to $450. Thankfully, the Flex is backward compatible with the Surface Pro 8 and Pro 9, so you don't necessarily need to buy a whole new tablet if all you want is a fancy new keyboard.

The Surface Pro Flex keyboard is available for pre-order today in two colors (black and bright sapphire), with official sales starting on June 18. 

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-surface-pro-flex-is-microsofts-revamped-keyboard-for-2-in-1s-185156350.html?src=rss

Microsoft’s new Copilot+ Surface Pro has an OLED screen and a redesigned keyboard

Microsoft's Surface Pro strategy has been, shall we say, a little odd lately. The 2022 Surface Pro 9 came in both Intel and Arm configurations, but the Arm-powered device was both slower and significantly more expensive. Then, earlier this year, Microsoft announced an Intel-powered Surface Pro 10, a fine but boring device focused on IT professionals. 

Finally, Microsoft has a new Surface Pro that may get the average laptop user to sit up and pay attention. to sit up and pay attention. The new Surface Pro Copilot+ PC (no more model numbers!) is another Arm-powered device, but Microsoft says that performance will not be compromised this time. In fact, thanks to a re-architected version of Windows 11, Microsoft claims these machines are 58 percent faster than “the fastest MacBook Air” with an M3 processor. 

Specifically, Copilot+ PCs must hit at 40 trillion operations per second, compared to the 18-ish trillion Apple claims with the M3. The Surface Pro itself hits 45 TOPS. The company further clarified that peak performance is 23 percent faster, while “sustained” performance is 58 percent faster. Notably, Microsoft made no mention of the M3 Pro or M3 Max chips here. 

It's also a whopping 90 percent faster than the Surface Pro 9, and Microsoft is promising 14 hours of local video playback time as far as battery life goes. Physically, it's similar to what you'd expect — a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard attachment. But it does look like it has thinner bezels, and a 13-inch OLED screen for the first time. As for ports, two USB-C are all you get here. Finally, there's a "quad-HD" front-facing camera which seems the same as the one we saw on the Surface Pro 10 for Business.

There's also a new keyboard called the Flex Keyboard that is meant to be used both attached to the device or removed and set somewhere more comfortable for you. The trackpad is 14 percent larger than before, as well. You're going to pay dearly for the new keyboard, though — it costs $350, or $450 with a Surface Pen included.

Of course, there are a host of AI-powered features on board here, thanks to the NPU in all the new Copilot+ PC devices announced today. And much of it is happening on device, so you won't have to wait for data to hit the cloud or pay for various pro AI subscriptions. One of the more interesting ones is Recall, which uses natural language prompts to pull data from your PC to resurface it based on whatever you remember about it. Other features include live translations on video chats in more than 40 languages as well as a Windows Photos tool called Super Resolution to improve old images.

Pre-orders start today, and they'll be available on June 18. The Surface Pro starts at $1,000 and comes in four colors; that includes a Snapdragon X Plus chip with a standard LCD screen, 256GB of storage and 16GB of RAM. Stepping up to the OLED model with the Snapdragon X Elite chip jacks the price up to $1,500. (That model also has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.) Microsoft also said you could get a Surface Pro with 5G built-in, but the company's site says those models aren't coming until "later this year."

Microsoft Surface Pro (2024)
Photo by Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsofts-new-copilot-surface-pro-has-an-oled-screen-and-a-redesigned-keyboard-175611698.html?src=rss

Microsoft Surface and Copilot Event: Everything announced including new Surface laptops, Copilot+ PC and more

Microsoft just couldn't wait until its Build developer conference properly starts tomorrow to drop some knowledge bombs. The company held a pre-Build event on Monday that wasn't livestreamed for the public, but it made some major announcements on the AI and Surface fronts.

Its vision for so-called AI PCs is taking shape with Copilot+ PCs, which are designed to run many generative AI processes locally instead of in the cloud. Along with its own Surface systems that will adopt this format, several other manufacturers are making Copilot+ PCs too. Microsoft also detailed some of the upcoming AI features for Windows 11.

The big news coming out of this event is Microsoft's vision for AI-centric PCs. Microsoft's take on this is the Copilot+ PC. 

To qualify as a Copilot+ PC, a system will need to have neural processing unit (NPU) performance of at least 40 TOPs (trillions of operations per second) and have 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage at minimum. This is so the PC can run generative AI processes locally rather than via the cloud. That's a strategy we've seen in some recent flagship smartphones, such as Google Pixel devices.

Microsoft says it has completely reimagined the Windows PC to run on a new infrastructure that combines the CPU, GPU and NPU. It's working with several partners to make this happen, including chipmakers AMD, Intel and Qualcomm as well as laptop manufacturers.

The company claims Copilot+ PCs are 58 percent faster than the M3-powered MacBook Air. The systems will be able to run dozens of multi-modal small language models locally, which will power features like a new standalone Copilot app. 

Microsoft unveiled new business-focused Surface devices a couple of months ago and now the latest consumer models are just about here. Of course, these are among the first Copilot+ PCs.

The new Surface Laptop has thinner bezels and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chipset. It comes in 13.8-inch and 15-inch sizes. Microsoft says it's over 86 percent faster than the last-gen Surface Laptop 5 and comes with up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage. 

The switch to Arm architecture should help make the laptop more power efficient. Microsoft claims the 15-inch model will run for up to 22 hours on a single charge while playing videos locally and up to 15 hours while actively browsing the web. The Surface Laptop starts at $999 and will ship on June 18.

Meanwhile, the Surface Pro will have a snazzy OLED display option for the first time. It's said to be 90 percent faster than the previous generation and you seemingly get up to 14 hours of local video playback on a single charge. Sadly, the only ports you'll get are two USB-C ones.

A version with an LCD screen starts at $1,000 and it comes with a Snapdragon X Plus chip, 256GB of storage and 16GB of RAM. If you want the OLED display, pricing starts at $1,500. Bear in mind that if you want a physical keyboard, you'll need to buy that separately. The new Flex Keyboard costs $350, or $450 if you want to bundle in a Surface Pen.

We've had some brief hands-on time with the Surface Pro as well.

Third-party OEMs are joining the Copilot+ party. Samsung, ASUS, Lenovo, Acer and Dell are among those who've already revealed their first models.

HP has a couple too in the form of the Omnibook X and the Elitebook Ultra, and we've already had the chance to go hands-on with the former. The company is also taking the opportunity to rebrand its systems under a single label called Omni, so say goodbye to Spectre, Pavilion and Envy.

While some of the snazzy new Windows 11 features (which we'll get to in a moment) weren't available to check out in our initial time with it, we felt like HP had taken a small step backward in terms of design aesthetics. Although it has a headphone jack, the dual USB-C and single USB-A port setup may not be enough for your needs. Meanwhile, the Omnibook X runs on a Snapdragon X Elite and HP claims it can run for up to 26 hours on a single charge while playing local video. 

The Omnibook X starts at $1,200 for a model with 1TB of storage. The Elitebook Ultra will run you at least $1,700. Both will ship on June 18.

Since Qualcomm's chips use the Arm architecture, that of course means Microsoft is doubling down on Arm-based Windows 11. The advantages of Qualcomm's chips are clear — they by and large offer improvements in terms of efficiency, cost and battery life. 

But Microsoft's previous attempts at getting Arm-based Windows to thrive haven't panned out. We had major concerns about the Arm-powered Surface Pro 9 back in 2022, so much so that we couldn't in good conscience recommend it. Microsoft has had a couple of years since then, so maybe it has finally figured out how to make the most of Arm.

To that end, Microsoft has redesigned Windows 11 with AI and Arm in mind. AI APIs are now built directly into the operating system. Windows 11 is getting a new kernel and compiler, as well as an emulator called Prism to run x86 and x64 apps. Prism is said to be 20 percent faster than Microsoft's previous emulator. 

As for apps that'll run natively on Arm-based Windows 11 after Copilot+ PCs start shipping next month, of course all of Microsoft's core software is included. Third-party apps including Chrome, Spotify, Zoom, WhatsApp, Blender, Affinity Suite, DaVinci Resolve and many of Adobe's will run natively on Arm too.

Sample of Microsoft’s Recall feature, showing a timeline of recent activity on a PC.
Microsoft

So, with all that said, what exactly can you do with these fancy new machines?

A tentpole feature of Copilot+ PCs is called Recall, which is a bit like a supercharged version of Timeline from Windows 10. The idea is to help you find something you've engaged with on your PC at some point in the past using natural language prompts. So, if you can't remember many details about a nifty patterned sweater you saw on the web months ago and now wonder if you might want to buy it, you can describe the item using text inputs or your voice and Recall can hunt for it. 

The tool can also tap into your emails, documents and chat threads to find the information you're looking for. Microsoft says the data Recall looks at will stay on your device and not be used to train its AI models. 

Microsoft is jazzing up Copilot too with a redesigned app that you can leave as a sidebar, turn into a standalone window or view fullscreen. You'll be able to drag items into it from elsewhere in Windows, so if you want to ask it about something you read in a Word doc, you can simply plop that in. 

Cocreator has been around for a while in a limited capacity, but now Microsoft is infusing that feature into Microsoft Paint for everyone. The image generation tool is getting some new options too, including a grimace-inducing creativity slider, because we all know that's how the creative process works. Sigh. Anyway, this will let you determine just how much you want AI to adjust your original work. 

Elsewhere, it's claimed that Live Captions will be able to translate dozens of languages into English in real-time, no matter whether the video is live or pre-recorded. Restoring old images in Windows Photos may be a cinch thanks to an option called Super Resolution. 

Lastly for now, (because there will surely be more Copilot+ features on the way), Microsoft has revealed its own upscaling tech for games. As with similar solutions like NVIDIA's DLSS, Auto Super Resolution taps into AI and aims to upscaled graphics and boost refresh rates without diminishing performance.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-surface-and-copilot-event-everything-announced-including-new-surface-laptops-copilot-pc-and-more-180709060.html?src=rss

Here are Dell’s five new Copilot+ PCs

Today, Microsoft is making a major push into AI with the launch of its Copilot+ PC classification. So to get in on the action, Dell is releasing one of the biggest portfolios of compatible laptops with a total of five devices. However, unlike other notebook manufacturers, all of Dell’s new Copilot+ PCs are revamps of existing models instead of all-new systems, so here’s a rundown of what the company has to offer.

For enterprise customers, Dell will have the Latitude 5455 and the Latitude 7455, which are offshoots of the current Latitude 5450 and 7450 notebooks. Just like their x86-based siblings, the 5455 is a 14-inch clamshell while the 7455 features a 360-degree 2-in-1 design. The big change is that both new models will be powered by Snapdragon X Plus chips, with only the 7455 capable of moving up to Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon X Elite processor.

The Latitude 7455 will be one of Dell's first enterprise-focused Copilot+ PCs
The Latitude 7455 will be one of Dell's first enterprise-focused Copilot+ PCs.
Dell

As for consumer devices, Dell will have new versions of both the Inspiron 14 and Inspiron 14 Plus featuring Qualcomm’s new Arm-based silicon. Similar to the company’s business models, the Inspiron 14 will only be available with a Snapdragon X Plus while Inspiron 14 Plus buyers will have the option of upgrading to an X Elite. However, the real jewel of Dell’s Copilot+ offerings is the XPS 13 9345, which features the same super sleek design as its Intel counterpart but with a Snapdragon X Elite chip instead.

It’s important to note that both the Snapdragon X Plus and X Elite chips feature NPUs that deliver up to 45 TOPS of performance, so regardless of which one you choose, there shouldn’t be a major difference in AI performance, which includes Microsoft’s new Copilot+ features. The differences between the two chips are more in terms of general computing power. The X Elite’s CPU has 12 cores instead of 10 with clock speeds of up to 3.8GHz (instead of 3.4GHz for X Plus) and a slightly higher-specced Adreno GPU with up to 4.6 TFLOPs of performance (versus 3.8 TFLOPs for the X Plus).

The new Inspiron 14 Plus is a revamp of the current model but your choice of either a Snapdragon X Plus or X Elite chip.
The Inspiron 14 Plus, Inspiron 14 and XPS 13 9345 (pictured up top) will be Dell's first three consumer Copilot+ PCs. 
Dell

Unfortunately, Dell has yet to share full info regarding each model's exact specs and configurations. But we should learn more later this month on May 20 when the XPS 13 9345 and Inpsiron 14 Plus become available for pre-order starting at $1,299 and $1,099, respectively. Meanwhile, all we know about availability for the Inspiron 14, Latitude 5455 and Latitude 7455 is that they will go on sale sometime later this year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/here-are-dells-five-new-copilot-pcs-180016375.html?src=rss

Microsoft rebuilt Windows 11 around AI and Arm chips

Windows' Arm woes may finally be over. As part of the company's new Copilot+ AI PC initiative, which includes new Surfaces and partner systems running Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite chips, Microsoft says it has rebuilt core components of Windows 11 to better support Arm-based hardware and AI. That includes a new kernel, compiler, and most importantly, an emulator named "Prism" for running older x86 and x64 apps.

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical, though. Since the launch of the Windows RT-powered Surface in 2012, Microsoft has proven it can't be trusted to deliver a decent OS experience on Arm. That device couldn't run legacy x86 apps (who would want to do that in Windows, right?), and it was far slower than PCs with Intel and AMD CPUs. Windows on Arm slowly improved over the years, to the point where it had serviceable emulation on the Surface Pro 9 5G. But that slate still couldn't keep up with its Intel-equipped sibling, especially when it struggled to emulate popular apps like Chrome.

Microsoft says it reworked Windows 11 schedulers to take advantage of Arm capabilities and AI workloads. There's also a new driver compute model that recognizes neural engines more like how Windows sees CPUs and GPUs, as well as AI APIs built directly into the OS. Basically, Arm hardware should no longer feel like an afterthought and developers should be able to tap into AI capabilities more easily.

"So, effectively, we're building binaries and windows that are optimized with certain workloads," Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft's head of Windows and Devices, said in a briefing with reporters earlier this month. "The benefit for us for that is there are certain things that we know customers with Copilot+ PCs are going to do on an ongoing basis, and we can really focus on optimizing for those scenarios and making sure the machine responsiveness is a meaningful improvement."

Thanks to a powerful new Neural Processing Unit (NPU) in the Snapdragon X Elite chips, Copilot+ PCs can run more than 40 trillion operations per second, a measure of a chip’s AI performance, more than four times the performance offered by today’s AI PCs. Microsoft claims that this is twice the performance offered by Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

While Microsoft is pushing the availability of more native Arm apps for Windows 11, it's hard to deny the importance of supporting older software. That's where the Prism emulator comes in. Microsoft claims it improved the number of apps it supports, and that it's around 20 percent faster than its previous emulator. Any x86 and x64 apps that run under emulation with the Snapdragon X Elite Arm processors are more than twice as fast as previous generations of Windows that ran on Arm, Microsoft said in a blog post.

"When you combine the new Prism emulator with simply the raw performance and improvement in CPUs themselves, we're in a place where we have great native apps and we're also in a place where the breadth of the app catalog also has tremendous performance comparable to the rest of the Windows estate today," Davuluri said.

The NPU also lets Microsoft add AI-powered software features to Windows such as Recall, a new feature that uses AI to retrieve nearly anything you’ve seen on your PC, something that Microsoft compares to giving your computer a photographic memory. Another feature called Live Captions offers instant and real-time translations from 44 languages into English across any video or audio playing on your PC.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-rebuilt-windows-11-around-ai-and-arm-chips-173152776.html?src=rss