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Everything announced at Microsoft's Copilot and Surface event

Microsoft just couldn't wait until its Build developer conference properly starts tomorrow to drop some knowledge bombs. The company held a pre-Build event on Monday that wasn't livestreamed for the public, but it made some major announcements on the AI and Surface fronts.

Its vision for so-called AI PCs is taking shape with Copilot+ PCs, which are designed to run many generative AI processes locally instead of in the cloud. Along with its own Surface systems that will adopt this format, several other manufacturers are making Copilot+ PCs too. Microsoft also detailed some of the upcoming AI features for Windows 11.

Copilot+ PCs

The big news coming out of this event is Microsoft's vision for AI-centric PCs. Microsoft's take on this is called Copilot+ PCs. To qualify as a Copilot+ PC, a system will need to have neural processing unit (NPU) performance of at least 40 TOPs (trillions of operations per second) and have 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage at minimum. This is so the PC can run generative AI processes locally rather than via the cloud. That's a strategy we've seen in some recent flagship smartphones, such as Google Pixel devices.

Microsoft says it has completely reimagined the Windows PC to run on a new infrastructure that combines the CPU, GPU and NPU. It's working with several partners to make this happen, including chipmakers AMD, Intel and Qualcomm as well as laptop manufacturers.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/everything-announced-at-microsofts-copilot-and-surface-event-180709683.html?src=rss

The Yoga Slim 7x is Lenovo’s attempt at a MacBook Air

As part of Microsoft’s big push into AI, Lenovo is releasing two new Windows 11 laptops featuring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite chip. First up is the ThinkPad T14s Gen 6, which is essentially Lenovo’s most popular enterprise notebook with an Arm-based chip with a beefy NPU instead of an x86 processor from Intel or AMD. But the more interesting of the two is the Yoga Slim 7x, which features an all-new chassis that’s designed to take better advantage of the X Elite’s blend of performance and power efficiency. And while Lenovo won’t say it outright, the latter is basically the company’s attempt at making a MacBook Air rival for Windows.

Before we get too deep into the specifics, it’s important to note that I tried out a pre-production version of the Slim 7x that didn’t have any of Microsoft’s new Copilot+ features, so this is strictly an early look at the laptop’s hardware. But from what I saw, there’s a lot to like.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The laptop’s highlight features are its 14-inch 3K 90Hz OLED display and its sleek aluminum chassis. The screen features a color gamut that covers 100 percent of DCI-P3 while delivering up to 500 nits of brightness. Above the display, there’s Lenovo’s signature communication tab, which allows the Slim 7x to support an FHD webcam plus IR sensors for Windows Hello along with quad mics, but without needing to have super thick bezels.

At just 2.84 pounds, the Slim 7x is only a tenth of a pound heavier than a 13-inch MacBook Air and half a pound lighter than a 15-inch MBA. Though at around 0.51 inches thick, it’s not quite as sleek as either of Apple’s rivals. And despite the Snapdragon X Elite chip’s emphasis on power efficiency, unlike a MacBook Air, the Slim 7x still has dedicated fans for cooling.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Elsewhere, the system features three USB-C 4 ports, Wi-Fi 7 and a surprisingly punchy quad speaker setup. I was also quite surprised with the Slim 7x’s keyboard, which sports 1.5mm of key travel, which is a lot longer than you typically get on a system this thin. Finally, powering everything is a 70Wh battery, which is significantly larger than the 58Wh cell on the ThinkPad T14s.

Unfortunately, without knowing more about the Snapdragon X Elite’s performance in Windows 11 (not to mention stuff like app compatibility) or how impactful Microsoft’s Copilot+ features will be, this is a somewhat incomplete peek at the Yoga Slim 7x’s capabilities. But even so, for all the people who want to see slimmer notebooks that offer good performance and battery life, it’s encouraging to see what companies like Lenovo are doing with a new generation of Arm-based processors for Windows.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Yoga Slim 7x is expected to go on sale sometime in June starting at $1,199 and will be available exclusively from Best Buy.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-yoga-slim-7x-is-lenovos-attempt-at-a-macbook-air-180056684.html?src=rss

HP Omnibook X hands-on: Vintage branding in the new era of AI

All over the PC industry today, we’re learning of new systems and products launching in conjunction with Microsoft’s Copilot+ push. But HP isn’t just showing off new Snapdragon-powered laptops as part of the program. The company up and decided to nuke its entire product portfolio altogether and unify most of its sub-series.

While HP was never the worst offender in the world of awful product names — I’m looking at you, Sony, LG and Lenovo — being able to quickly identify the make and model of a device is crucial when you’re deciding what to buy. HP’s vice president of consumer PC products Pierre-Antoine Robineau admits as much, saying “to be fair, we don’t make things easy with our portfolio.” He referred to the company’s brands like Spectre, Pavilion and Envy, saying that if you ask ChatGPT what they are, the answers you’d get might refer to a ghost or a gazebo.

To simplify things, HP is getting rid of all those names on its consumer product portfolio and unifying everything under the Omni label. It’ll use Omnibook to refer to laptops, Omnidesk for desktops and Omnistudio for all-in-ones. For each category, it’ll add a label saying “3,” “5,” “7,” “X” or “Ultra” to indicate how premium or high-end the model is. That means the Omnibook Ultra is the highest-tier laptop, while the Omnidesk 3 might be the most basic or entry-level desktop system. That sort of numbering echoes Sony’s recent streamlined nomenclature of its home theater and personal audio offerings.

If Omnibook sounds familiar, that’s because HP actually had a product with that name, and it was available from 1993 to about 2002. The Omni moniker makes sense now in the 2020s, HP says, because these are devices that can do just about anything and act as multiple things at once. (As long as they don’t claim to be omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent, I’ll let this slide.)

The company is also cleaning things up on the commercial side of its business, where the word “Elitebook” has traditionally been the most recognized label. It’s keeping that name, adopting the same Elitebook, Elitedesk and Elitestudio distinctions across categories and using the same “Ultra” and “X” labels to denote each model’s tier. However, instead of “3,” “5” or “7” here, HP is using even numbers (2, 4, 6 or 8), in part because it has used even series numbers like “1040” and “1060” in the Elitebook line before. Keeping similar numbers around can help IT managers with the shift in names, HP said.

The first new laptops under this new naming system are the Omnibook X and the Elitebook Ultra. They share very similar specs, with the Elitebook offering software that make them easier for IT managers to deploy to employees. Both of these come with 14-inch 2.2K touchscreens that were, at least in my brief time with them during a recent hands-on, bright and colorful.

I didn’t get to explore much of the new Windows 11, since the units available either ran existing software or were locked. I presume, though, that these would have other Copilot+ PC goodies that Microsoft announced earlier today.

What I can tell you is that I prefer the aesthetic of HP’s older Spectre models. The company’s machines turned heads and caught eyes thanks to their shiny edges and uniquely cut-off corners. I’m a sucker for razor sharp edges and gold or silver finishes, so that line of laptops really called to me.

In contrast, the HP Omnibook X seems plain. It comes in white or silver (the Elitebook is available in blue) and has a uniform thickness along its edges. It’s still thin and light, at 14mm (or about 0.55 inches) and 1.33 kilograms (or 2.93 pounds). But it’s certainly lost a little flavor, and I crave some spice in a device.

That’s not to say the Omnibook is hideous. It’s fine! I actually like the color accents on the keyboard deck. The power button is a different shade of blue depending on the version you get, while the row of function keys is a light shade of gray or blue. Typing on the demo units felt comfortable, too, though I miss the clicky feedback on older Elitebooks and would like a tad more travel on the keyboard.

You might also need to invest in a dongle for a card reader or if you have lots of accessories, but the two USB-C sockets and one USB-A might be enough in a pinch. Thankfully, there’s a headphone jack, too. Like every other Copilot+ PC announced today, the Omnibook and Elitebook are both powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite processor and promise 26 hours of battery life when playing local video. HP says its “next-gen AI PCs” have dedicated NPUs that are “capable of 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS),” which is slightly more than the 40 TOPS Microsoft is claiming for its Copilot+ PCs.

The company is also distinguishing its own AI PCs by adorning them with a logo that’s the letters “A” and “I” twisted into a sort of DNA helix. You’ll find it on the keyboard deck and the spine of the machine. It’s not big enough to be annoying, though you’ll certainly see it.

If you're already a fan of the HP Omnibook X or Elitebook Ultra, you can pre-order them today. The Omnibook X will start at $1,200 and come with 1 TB of storage, while the Elitebook Ultra starts at $1,700. Both systems will begin shipping on June 18.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hp-omnibook-x-hands-on-vintage-branding-in-the-new-era-of-ai-180038627.html?src=rss

Acer joins Microsoft, Dell and others in announcing a Copilot+ PC

Acer just announced a new laptop that takes full advantage of Microsoft’s Copilot AI technology, the Swift 14 AI. This is one of the first PCs with Copilot built directly into the system, so you can expect some serious AI bells and whistles.

To that end, there are plenty of new system-wide tools that could radically change how we interact with personal computers. The Recall tool is an amplified search function that lets users find missing files via natural conversation. It’s sort of like an AI Sherlock Holmes, only for misplaced Word documents and the like. You describe any clues you remember about the file and Recall starts sleuthing. That certainly beats typing in the first letter and hoping autocorrect does the rest.

That isn’t the only new way to find stuff. The Swift 14 AI features an explorable timeline, allowing users to scroll through time to get back to apps, documents and messages they previously used. The computer’s built-in AI also allows for real-time translations and speech captions of any live or pre-recorded video. As for the translations, it can turn 44 languages into English.

Being an AI computer, the Acer Swift 14 AI features a built-in way to generate images and text via written prompt. This Cocreator service should be much faster than current methods, as the query won’t have to go to the cloud and back.

All of that stuff is well and good, but built-in AI really shines when it comes to optimization. This computer includes a feature called Auto Super Resolution that automatically upscales graphics resolution and frame refresh rates of games all “without taking a hit on performance.” The Windows Studio Effects toolset uses AI to improve lighting conditions and cancel out unwanted noise during video calls. Finally, there’s a dedicated Copilot key for accessing a myriad of other AI-adjacent features.

Acer

Of course, this isn’t just a larger version of Humane’s beleaguered AI pin. It’s an actual laptop with the specs to prove it. The Acer Swift 14 AI ships in a light metal chassis and boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon X processor, an integrated NPU that promises up to 45 trillion operations per second and a 14.5-inch WQXGA touch display. Acer also promises all-day battery life, despite the added power. 

The laptop will be available in July, with a starting price of $1,100. You can spec it out with up to 32GB of RAM and and up to 1TB of solid-state storage. It joins a bevy of other Acer laptop models announced or released this year

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/acer-joins-microsoft-dell-and-others-in-announcing-a-copilot-pc-180031939.html?src=rss

Here are Dell’s five new Copilot+ PCs

Today, Microsoft is making a major push into AI with the launch of its Copilot+ PC classification. So to get in on the action, Dell is releasing one of the biggest portfolios of compatible laptops with a total of five devices. However, unlike other notebook manufacturers, all of Dell’s new Copilot+ PCs are revamps of existing models instead of all-new systems, so here’s a rundown of what the company has to offer.

For enterprise customers, Dell will have the Latitude 5455 and the Latitude 7455, which are offshoots of the current Latitude 5450 and 7450 notebooks. Just like their x86-based siblings, the 5455 is a 14-inch clamshell while the 7455 features a 360-degree 2-in-1 design. The big change is that both new models will be powered by Snapdragon X Plus chips, with only the 7455 capable of moving up to Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon X Elite processor.

The Latitude 7455 will be one of Dell's first enterprise-focused Copilot+ PCs.
Dell

As for consumer devices, Dell will have new versions of both the Inspiron 14 and Inspiron 14 Plus featuring Qualcomm’s new Arm-based silicon. Similar to the company’s business models, the Inspiron 14 will only be available with a Snapdragon X Plus while Inspiron 14 Plus buyers will have the option of upgrading to an X Elite. However, the real jewel of Dell’s Copilot+ offerings is the XPS 13 9345, which features the same super sleek design as its Intel counterpart but with a Snapdragon X Elite chip instead.

It’s important to note that both the Snapdragon X Plus and X Elite chips feature NPUs that deliver up to 45 TOPS of performance, so regardless of which one you choose, there shouldn’t be a major difference in AI performance, which includes Microsoft’s new Copilot+ features. The differences between the two chips are more in terms of general computing power. The X Elite’s CPU has 12 cores instead of 10 with clock speeds of up to 3.8GHz (instead of 3.4GHz for X Plus) and a slightly higher-specced Adreno GPU with up to 4.6 TFLOPs of performance (versus 3.8 TFLOPs for the X Plus).

The Inspiron 14 Plus, Inspiron 14 and XPS 13 9345 (pictured up top) will be Dell's first three consumer Copilot+ PCs. 
Dell

Unfortunately, Dell has yet to share full info regarding each model's exact specs and configurations. But we should learn more later this month on May 20 when the XPS 13 9345 and Inpsiron 14 Plus become available for pre-order starting at $1,299 and $1,099, respectively. Meanwhile, all we know about availability for the Inspiron 14, Latitude 5455 and Latitude 7455 is that they will go on sale sometime later this year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/here-are-dells-five-new-copilot-pcs-180016375.html?src=rss

Microsoft's new Copilot+ Surface Pro has an OLED screen and a redesigned keyboard

Microsoft's Surface Pro strategy has been, shall we say, a little odd lately. The 2022 Surface Pro 9 came in both Intel and Arm configurations, but the Arm-powered device was both slower and significantly more expensive. Then, earlier this year, Microsoft announced and Intel-powered Surface Pro 10, a fine but boring device focused on IT professionals. 

Finally, Microsoft has a new Surface Pro that may get the average person in the market for a laptop to sit up and pay attention. The new Surface Pro Copilot+ PC (no more model numbers!) is another Arm-powered device, but Microsoft says that performance will not be compromised this time. In fact, thanks to a re-architected version of Windows 11, Microsoft claims these machines are 58 percent faster than “the fastest MacBook Air” with an M3 processor. Specifically, Copilot+ PCs run at 40 trillion operations per second, compared to the 18-ish trillion Apple claims with the M3. The company further clarified that peak performance is 23 percent faster, while “sustained” performance is 58 faster. Notably, Microsoft made no mention of the M3 Pro or M3 Max chips here. 

It's also a whopping 90 percent faster than the Surface Pro 9, and Microsoft is promising 22-ish hours of battery life for these new Copilot+ PCs. Physically, it's similar to what you'd expect — a tablet with a kickstand and keyboard attachment. But it does look like it has thinner bezels, and an 13-inch OLED screen for the first time. Finally, there's a "quad-HD" front-facing camera which seems the same as the one we saw on the Surface Pro 10 for business.

There's also a new keyboard called the Flex Keyboard that is meant to be used both attached to the device or removed and set somewhere more comfortable for you. The trackpad is 14 percent larger than before, as well.

We haven't heard yet how much the new Surface Pro or its Flex Keyboard will cost just yet, but stay tuned for more details as Microsoft announces them.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Developing...

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsofts-new-copilot-surface-pro-has-an-oled-screen-and-a-redesigned-keyboard-175611698.html?src=rss

Microsoft's redesigned Surface Laptop is a Copilot+ PC with over 22 hours of battery life

To kick off Build 2024, Microsoft announced new Surface devices at its hardware and AI event. Among the new gear is the new Surface Laptop : a redesigned PC with thinner bezels in 13.8- and 15-inch sizes and Qualcomm’s Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite chip. Of course, AI plays a key role on the new device as this is one of the newly-named Copilot+ PCs that run over 40 models locally thanks to updates to Windows 11.  

To go along with the thinner bezels, and upgraded PixelSense touchscreen display offers HDR and Dolby Vision IQ. Microsoft says this is the brightest display it has ever shipped at 600 nits and it offers a wide color range supporting the P3 gamut. What's more, new Studio Cameras are now in the bezel, to there's no visible notch. As expected, there's now a dedicated Copilot key and the touchpad is equipped with haptics, plus there are two new colors: Sapphire and Dune. And it sounds like Microsoft has decided to drop the numbers as it's referring to this new machine simply as Surface Laptop. 

Microsoft says the new Surface Laptop is over 86 percent faster than the Surface Pro 5. In an onstage demo, this new model was batch processing photos almost twice as fast as a MacBook Air. Adobe's flagship apps — Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoshop Express — are coming to Copilot+ PCs today, so they'll also work with existing Arm Windows machines. The company says the 15-inch Surface Laptop lasted "far longer" than the Surface Laptop 5 and MacBook Air with over 22 hours of local video playback. 

This is actually the second "Surface Laptop 6." Microsoft revealed the first one back in March, but that model is basically a Laptop 5 with updated internals for business use. Intel's Core Ultra CPUs deliver AI smarts though, and the 13.5- and 15-inch models are available with with up to 64GB of RAM and a 1TB. There's also a dedicated Copilot key like we've seen on machines from other companies, aiming to get you to use Microsoft's AI more easily and more often at work. Since these are meant for enterprise customers, they aren't available in stores, leaving everyone waiting for the proper Laptop 6 the company unveiled today. 

Developing...

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsofts-redesigned-surface-laptop-is-a-copilot-pc-with-over-22-hours-of-battery-life-174031723.html?src=rss

Microsoft rebuilt Windows 11 around AI and Arm chips

Microsoft's Windows on Arm woes may finally be over. As part of the company's new Copilot+ AI PC initiative, which includes new Surfaces and partner systems running Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite chips, Microsoft says it has rebuilt core components of Windows 11 to better support Arm-based hardware and AI. That includes a new kernel, compiler, and most importantly, an emulator named "Prism" for running older x86 and x64 apps.

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical, though. Since the launch of Windows RT-powered Surface in 2012, Microsoft has proven it can't be trusted to deliver a decent OS experience on Arm. That device couldn't run legacy x86 apps (who would want to do that in Windows, right?), and it was far slower than PCs with Intel and AMD CPUs. Windows on Arm slowly improved over the years, to the point where it had serviceable emulation on the Surface Pro 9 5G. But that slate still couldn't keep up with its Intel-equipped sibling, especially when it struggled to emulate popular apps like Chrome.

Microsoft says it reworked Windows 11 schedulers to take advantage of Arm capabilities and AI workloads. There's also a new driver compute model that recognizes neural engines more like how Windows sees CPUs and GPUs, as well as AI APIs built directly into the OS. Basically, Arm hardware should no longer feel like an afterthought and developers should be able to tap into AI capabilities more easily.

While Microsoft is pushing the availability of more native Arm apps for Windows 11, it's hard to deny the importance of supporting older software. That's where the Prism emulator comes in. Microsoft claims it's around 20 percent faster than its previous emulator, and it also worked to improve the number of apps that it supports.

Developing...

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-rebuilt-windows-11-around-ai-and-arm-chips-173152776.html?src=rss

With Recall, Microsoft is using AI to fix Windows' eternally broken search

At its Build 2024 conference, Microsoft unveiled Rewind, a new feature that tries to turn local Windows PC search as quick and effective as web searches. Similar to third-party apps like Rewind, Microsoft’s Recall uses AI to retrieve virtually anything you’ve seen on your PC. Microsoft describes it as like having a photographic memory.

At Monday’s event, Microsoft Product Manager Caroline Hernandez gave the example of searching for a blue dress on Pinterest using a Windows PC with Recall. Returning later, she can search the Recall timeline for “blue dress” (using her voice), which pulls all of her recent searches, saving her from having to sift through browser history. She then further refined the query with more specific details like “blue pantsuit with sequined lace,” and Rewind brought those up.

Microsoft says Recall uses semantic associations to make connections (like “peacock” relating to blue hues for the dress search).

Developing...

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/with-recall-microsoft-is-using-ai-to-fix-windows-eternally-broken-search-172510698.html?src=rss

Microsoft unveils Copilot+ PCs with generative AI capabilities baked in

We’ve been hearing rumblings for months now that Microsoft was working on so-called “AI PCs.” At a pre-Build event, the company spelled out its vision for AI PCs.

Microsoft is calling its version Copilot+ PCs, which CEO Satya Nadella described as a "new class of Windows PCs." These include hardware designed to handle more generative AI Copilot processes locally, rather than relying on the cloud. That requires a chipset with a neural processing unit (NPU) and manufacturers such as Qualcomm have been laying the groundwork with chips like the Snapdragon X Elite

Microsoft is taking a partner-first approach to making Copilot+ PCs. Along with chipmakers like AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, major OEMs including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo are on board. 

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft EVP and consumer chief marketing officer said during the event that the company has completely reimagined what a Windows PC. He claimed that Copilot+ PCs are the most powerful PCs ever (we'll need to see if that assertion holds up in real-world testing). Despite that, Mehdi said, the first generation of laptops are "unbelievably thin, light and beautiful." 

Other AI PCs on the market deliver 10 TOPs (tera operations per second). To be dubbed a Copilot+ PC, a system will need to deliver at least 40 TOPs of NPU performance. Mehdi also suggested Copilot+ PCs are also 58 percent faster than M3-powered MacBook Air (though it's worth noting Apple has more powerful M3 chips in its laptops already and M4 chips on the way to them very soon).

Developing...

Catch up on all the news from the Microsoft Surface and AI event right here!

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-unveils-copilot-pcs-with-generative-ai-capabilities-baked-in-170445370.html?src=rss