Why it matters: Microsoft has tested and teased its new AI assistant’s future capabilities throughout 2023, but the full range of its use cases remains somewhat vague. Dell recently offered possibly the most vivid showcase of how Copilot could leverage NPUs to help ordinary users.
Gizmodo recently witnessed a demonstration from Dell showcasing Windows 11 Copilot helping find and change settings. The animated presentation indicates one way an AI assistant could facilitate interface navigation as PCs with Neural Processing Units (NPUs) begin to emerge.
In one example, a user asks Microsoft’s chatbot how to change the trackpad’s brightness. A brightness slider immediately appears in the chat window, and manipulating it alters the brightness of the trackpad’s backlit icons. Another demonstrates how Copilot can change power settings when the user requests adjustments to make the PC run at its fastest. The chatbot then estimates the remaining battery power under the new settings.
Prior information about Windows 11’s upcoming generative AI integration included an example where a user could ask Copilot to retrieve a specific file they recently received from a specific person in a particular app, like WhatsApp, or for graphics driver details without digging through menus. Other context-sensitive queries could fundamentally change how users navigate Windows.
Dell said Copilot could also perform specific actions automatically depending on the situation, like changing network security settings when logged into public WiFi, engaging battery-saving mode when unplugged, or shutting down programs that crash when Windows starts. The AI will notify users when taking these steps and reverse them if asked. The new AI could bring attention to many useful but hidden features.
The range of AI applications could extend far beyond what Dell showcased. Microsoft previously suggested that NPUs could reduce reliance on cloud servers when running generative AI models, and the processors could facilitate AI application development.
An early version of Copilot is available now as an app for Windows and Android. However, reports indicate that an upcoming revision of Windows – which may or may not be called Windows 12 – will strengthen it using the AI chips in new processors like the Meteor Lake series or the Qualcomm Snapdragon X. The technology could arrive with next-generation Surface laptops debuting sometime in 2024.