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Microsoft to bring Copilot, an AI personal assistant, to Windows

By Renata Geraldo, The Seattle Times
Published: May 24, 2023, 7:49am

Microsoft will integrate a ChatGPT-like system, called “Windows Copilot,” in all PC apps, the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant announced Tuesday. The Copilot will be available for Windows 11 as a preview in June.

Windows Copilot will be the user’s personal assistant, the company announced during the Microsoft Build conference that runs until Thursday.

“We are bringing the Copilot to the biggest canvas of all: Windows,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella during the opening of Build. “This is going to make every user a power user of Windows.”

Microsoft, a multibillion-dollar investor in ChatGPT maker OpenAI, has been incorporating generative artificial intelligence in its products, beginning with search engine Bing and browser Edge in February. Despite the partnership, Nadella said last week that Microsoft doesn’t control OpenAI.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, said ChatGPT will offer Bing as the default search engine but did not say when it will be available.

“ChatGPT is the fastest growing consumer app we have ever seen,” Nadella said.

The OpenAI and Microsoft partnership is setting the pace of innovation in AI, said Kevin Scott, Microsoft chief technology officer and executive vice president of AI.

“Even for us, it’s been surprising to see how much of the zeitgeist is being captured by things like ChatGPT,” Scott said during the conference.

The Copilot will be available in a taskbar for users. Once open, the Copilot will “stay consistent across your apps, programs and windows,” said Chief Product Officer Panos Panay. It will be available for users in apps such as Word and Teams.

Windows revenue has been a source of struggle for the tech giant. Revenue decreased more than 12% to $5.3 billion in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

While tech giants such as Microsoft and Google are accelerating their deployment of AI technologies, advocacy groups, researchers and even AI startups such as OpenAI are asking for a more robust set of AI guidelines and regulations.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a Senate testimony earlier this month that lawmakers should create regulations to curb AI’s potential harms such as disinformation. “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong,” Altman said.

Microsoft says it has an in-house AI ethics team and a set of AI principles, which includes leadership involvement, inclusive governance and actionable guidelines and investment and empowerment for people.