PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Microsoft’s Copilot+ PCs: AI Takes Flight, Lands on Your Desk

Microsoft, Windows 11, AI, artificial intelligence

In a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly woven into the fabric of our daily lives, Microsoft is betting that the future of computing will be powered by AI — and that users will want that intelligence at their fingertips rather than in the cloud.

The company has unveiled its vision for “Copilot+ PCs” — a new class of Windows machines designed to handle generative AI (GenAI) processes locally, according to a Monday (May 20) article from the company. Local processing improves data privacy, speeds up responses and works reliably even without an internet connection.

Developed in collaboration with chipmakers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), these AI-powered PCs feature neural processing units that can deliver 40 tera operations per second, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, the company reportedly said at a closed media event a day ahead of its annual Build developers conference. At the same time, Dell has announced the release of AI business hardware.

The move toward local AI processing on personal computers marks a notable shift in the industry. As AI applications become more prevalent, there is a growing need to address issues such as data privacy and performance bottlenecks associated with cloud-based processing. By equipping PCs with dedicated hardware for AI tasks, Microsoft aims to provide users with a more secure and efficient computing experience.

However, it remains to be seen how well these machines will perform in real-world scenarios and whether they will justify the potentially higher costs associated with the advanced hardware.

Windows 11 Gets AI Features

At the heart of the Copilot+ experience is a suite of AI-powered features integrated into Windows 11. The “Recall” feature allows users to retrieve information using natural language prompts, while “Super Resolution” can enhance the quality of old photos in Windows Photos. Live Captions offers real-time captioning and translations in over 40 languages, and a dedicated Copilot app provides a versatile workspace for AI-assisted tasks.

The Verge and Engadget reported that the Copilot+ PCs are now open for pre-orders on Microsoft.com and at leading global retailers. The devices are set to hit the market next, with prices starting at $999. Major OEMs like Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, ASUS, Dell and HP are all set to launch their own Copilot+ models, including the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7X, ThinkPad 14S, Acer Swift 14a, ASUS Vivobook S15 and several Dell models, including a new XPS 13.

Dell announced its new line of Copilot+ PCs, powered by Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus processors, as part of its expanding AI devices and infrastructure offerings. The company said these new devices will transform the AI PC experience with improved performance, battery life and security features, marking a significant step in the AI PC revolution.

The new lineup includes five laptops — the XPS 13, Inspiron 14 Plus, Inspiron 14, Latitude 7455 and Latitude 5455 — catering to consumer and commercial markets. The standout feature of these devices is their ability to process AI tasks locally without relying on an internet connection or the cloud.

This on-device processing is made possible by the custom-integrated Qualcomm Oryon CPU, premium GPU and neural processing unit (NPU), which Dell said can deliver up to 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of performance. The company also highlighted the laptops’ extended battery life, with the XPS 13 offering up to 27 hours and the Latitude 7455 providing up to 21 hours on a single charge.

Microsoft also unveiled a new Surface Pro Copilot+ PC, an Arm-powered device that the company claims will not compromise on performance. Thanks to a re-architected version of Windows 11, Microsoft said  these machines are 58% faster than “the fastest MacBook Air” with an M3 processor. The new Surface Pro will feaeture an OLED screen and a redesigned Flex Keyboard, though pricing details for the keyboard accessory have yet to be revealed.

The Verge reported that Microsoft plans to welcome Intel and AMD chips into the Copilot+ platform soon, further expanding the range of Copilot+ PCs from leading OEMs. Engadget also highlighted some AI-powered features demonstrated on the new Surface Pro, such as background removal and dynamic background addition in video clips using CapCut, which the Surface Pro can handle almost three times faster than the previous Pro 9 model. The new “Cocreator” feature in Image Creator allows users to draw a basic outline and combine it with a text prompt to generate a final AI image, all processed on-device.

As Microsoft takes a partner-first approach to this new era of computing, the question remains: Will Copilot+ PCs live up to their bold promises and revolutionize how we interact with our devices? Only time — and real-world testing — will tell.

Dell Unveils New Servers, Solutions, and Services 

In related AI hardware news, Dell and Nvidia announced on Monday a significant expansion of their collaboration, the Dell AI Factory with Nvidia. The partnership aims to provide businesses with a comprehensive suite of AI-focused servers, edge computing solutions, workstations and services designed to streamline the implementation of AI and drive innovation across industries.

Central to the expanded offering is the new Dell PowerEdge XE9680L server, which can support eight Nvidia Blackwell GPUs and provide 33% more GPU density per node than previous models. The server also features direct liquid cooling for improved efficiency and is designed for easy serviceability, making it an attractive option for organizations looking to deploy large-scale AI projects.

Additionally, Dell and Nvidia unveiled new AI solutions, including the Dell NativeEdge edge orchestration platform, which automates the delivery of Nvidia AI Enterprise software, and the Dell Generative AI Solution for Digital Assistants, which aims to accelerate the deployment of personalized, AI-powered  experience for end users.