Copilot+ PCs

May 27, 2024

Last week, Microsoft held a Windows event keynote prior to its Build Conference. Normally this is not the sort of thing I’d pay much attention to, or highlight here, but the entire thing was very compelling and interesting.

From the Microsoft Blog:

Today, at a special event on our new Microsoft campus, we introduced the world to a new category of Windows PCs designed for AI, Copilot+ PCs.

Copilot+ PCs are the fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built. With powerful new silicon capable of an incredible 40+ TOPS (trillion operations per second), all–day battery life and access to the most advanced AI models, Copilot+ PCs will enable you to do things you can’t on any other PC. Easily find and remember what you have seen in your PC with Recall, generate and refine AI images in near real-time directly on the device using Cocreator, and bridge language barriers with Live Captions, translating audio from 40+ languages into English.

The keynote focused several times by name on the MacBook Air line, and how these new Copilot+ PCs are out performing the best-selling Apple laptops.

Tom Warren writes more at The Verge:

Microsoft is confident that it finally nailed the transition to Arm chips — so confident that, this time around, the company spent an entire day pitting its new hardware against the MacBook Air.

On a recent morning at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft representatives set out new Surface devices equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chips inside and compared them directly to Apple’s category-leading laptop. I witnessed an hour of demos and benchmarks that started with Geekbench and Cinebench comparisons, then moved on to apps and compatibility.

Geekbench scores aren’t everything, for sure. And it’s not a fair comparison when one device is passively cooled without fans and the other sports an active cooling system with, at least, one fan.

The fan issue was noted by Andrew Cunningham at ArsTechnica:

One caveat that I hadn’t seen mentioned in Microsoft’s presentation or in other coverage of the announcement, though: Microsoft says that both of these devices have fans. Apple still uses fans for the MacBook Pro lineup, but the MacBook Air is totally fanless. Bear that in mind when reading Microsoft’s claims about performance.

The new Surface Pro looks very nice. To me this isn’t a MacBook Air competitor, but rather one for the iPad itself. A detachable keyboard, touch screen, pencil support, and a decent screen that runs a desktop-class operating system is a good thing. Microsoft seems to understand this. For the first time in over 20 years I’m very tempted to buy a Windows PC! Wow.

These announcements are a bold bet and are very compelling. In a time where passionate support for Apple products may be waning, this is a solid step for Microsoft to take. I am continuously impressed with Satya Nadella and his leadership.