Microsoft presented on Monday May 20 the highly anticipated “PCs with AI”, computers where generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools are integrated directly into its Windows operating system, to help the user in all their tasks. . The American group estimates that more than 50 million “AI PCs” will be sold in the next 12 months, given the appetite of developers and the public for these digital assistants that anticipate their needs.

After its partner OpenAI and its rival Google last week, Microsoft is holding its conference for developers this week, focused on its latest innovations in AI. “We are introducing a whole new category of Windows PCs designed to unleash the full power of AI closer to users,” CEO Satya Nadella said at a conference at the company’s headquarters in Redmond (North). west), in front of an audience of journalists, analysts and influencers.

“We have completely reimagined the PC from the inside out,” said Yusuf Mehdi, vice-president of the IT giant. The “Copilot Plus PCs”, named after the Windows AI interface – Copilot – are “the fastest, smartest Windows PCs ever made (…) These improvements will provide the best reason in a long time to change computers.” They are “58% faster than the most advanced MacBook Air,” he further clarified, to applause.

The integration of AI into Microsoft’s Surface range should help revive its sales of personal devices, which declined last year (-9% over one year). New tools, such as live translation, image generation or questions to the Copilot assistant, will be available without a subscription, without opening separate applications. The Cocreator tool allows you to create images by drawing and giving written instructions (“prompts”). “It’s free, super fast, completely private, and you can’t do this anywhere else,” praises Yusuf Mehdi.

“The ability to remember anything thanks to a photographic memory… For me, it’s a superpower,” said Yusuf Mehdi in an interview with AFP. Thanks to the new “Recall” function, a user can actually go back in time on their PC, see all the windows they have opened, or ask Copilot to find a presentation that had a certain image in it, for example.

Thanks to “NPUs”, the specialized chips for AI tasks, exchanges with the models take place directly on the computer, instead of sending data to the cloud (server in a data center) and expect a response in return. Companies like Lenovo, Dell, Acer and HP have recently released PCs with “NPUs”, and will now integrate Copilot Plus, hoping to reignite public interest in computers. “We finally have a tool at our disposal to give users what they want,” rejoices Caleb Fleming, a marketing manager at HP, explaining that the new chip allows, among other things, to optimize battery usage. .

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, launched the generative AI revolution at the end of 2022, which produces and “understands” all kinds of content (texts, images, etc.), and therefore makes it possible to interact with machines like never before . Since then, all the tech giants have been engaged in a frantic race to deploy this technology. Apple, Microsoft’s main computer competitor, has remained quiet on generative AI so far, but is expected to introduce its own innovations in June. Google and OpenAI went all out last week on ever more sophisticated AI assistants.

Thanks to its new GPT-4o model, ChatGPT will be able to converse very fluidly, a bit like a human friend contacted via video call. So much so that many observers are concerned about the tendency to blur the line between people and machines. Copilot will run on GPT-4o, and allow live discussions – to receive advice during a video game game, for example. But the result should anthropomorphize the assistant much less, indicated Yusuf Mehdi. AI “shouldn’t be human. She shouldn’t be breathing. You should know immediately that you are talking to an AI,” he insisted.