Updated with details from Microsoft Build.
Microsoft will incorporate generative artificial intelligence into its widely used PC operating system with a new feature called “Windows Copilot.”
The feature, announced at the company’s Build developer conference Tuesday morning, will appear as a persistent sidebar on the Windows desktop once activated by users via a new taskbar button.
“I think this is going to make every user a power user of Windows,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during his opening keynote. With the feature, he said, Microsoft is bringing AI “to the biggest canvas of all.”
In addition to asking questions and seeking information, similar to ChatGPT or Bing Chat, Microsoft says Windows Copilot will let users control and access Windows settings with natural language commands, and use AI to summarize and compose text across multiple apps.
Windows Copilot “stays consistent across your apps, programs, and windows, always available to act as your personal assistant,” says Panos Panay, Microsoft chief product officer, in a blog post. He said it will help users “take action, customize your settings, and seamlessly connect across your favorite apps.”
Windows Copilot will also offer Bing and ChatGPT plugins, giving third-party developers the ability to offer functionality via the AI sidebar.
It’s part of a broader effort by Microsoft to incorporate AI into its products, through both its own homegrown technologies and its partnership with ChatGPT maker OpenAI.
Other announcements at Build included Microsoft Fabric, a unified data analytics platform that Nadella called “the biggest launch of a data product from Microsoft since SQL Server,” referring to the widely used database management technology.
In addition to a variety of AI-related developer tools and technologies, the company on Tuesday announced that Bing will become the default search engine for OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and said it will start using generative AI to offer summaries of app reviews in the Microsoft Store.
Windows, once Microsoft’s flagship product, has experienced flat and declining revenue in recent years. Windows revenue, which is highly dependent on PC sales, declined more than 12% to $5.3 billion in the three months ended March 31, the company’s fiscal Q3.
Despite the introduction of “Cloud PCs” and integration with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, the Windows business hasn’t been able to fully capitalize on the industry’s cloud transition on the same level as Microsoft’s Office and Windows Server businesses have.
Microsoft says Windows Copilot will start to become available as a preview for Windows 11 in June. More details are expected in a Build keynote focused on Windows on Wednesday.
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