It’s been a busy year for the tech industry, and Microsoft proved it has no plans to slow down anytime soon during last week’s Microsoft Event in New York City. The event centered around AI, but also had a hardware launch as the company rolled out its newest Surface products. With Generative AI being the hottest topic in tech and Microsoft at the center of the Gen AI boom, it was to be expected that the company would take advantage of the event to showcase many of its generative AI developments. The following is a brief recap of what Microsoft has in store as we start to round out 2023.
Microsoft 365 Copilot Available for the enterprise
No, Microsoft 365 Copilot isn’t technically new, Microsoft is moving closer to its vision of creating a “single Copilot user experience” across apps like Edge, Bing, Microsoft 365, and Windows. What does that look like? A new visual identity – the Copilot icon – will begin rolling out in Windows on September 26, eventually moving on to Microsoft 365 Copilot, with general availability for the enterprise on November 1. The cost will be $30/user/month on top of the standard Microsoft 365 price. Copilot can also be accessed with Win+C on the keyboard.
In addition, Bing Chat Enterprise will be available for commercial customers, and Microsoft is ensuring enterprise users that chat data is not saved and will not be used to train LLMs. It will be available as a standalone tool for $5/user/month, but it is also included in Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. Additionally, Microsoft 365 Chat will allow users to sort through emails, chats, documents, and other sources to solve problems at work. It’s integrated with Microsoft 365 Apps like Word, Outlook, Teams, and Excel. It will also be available for enterprise users for $30/user/month starting November 1.
Getting confused about which apps are available where, when, and at what cost? Check out this chart below:
Copilot and Bing Enterprise Will Drive Revenue and Adoption
One of the biggest questions that I am continually asked by enterprises, press, and media is whether Microsoft’s Copilot and Enterprise Search Gen AI offerings at $30.00 and $5.00 respectively will see strong adoption and drive meaningful adoption and revenue for Microsoft. To that I respond with an emphatic yes. The value proposition with these services is substantial productivity and efficiency gains that enterprises would be remiss not to consider. Further proof of the probability of strong adoption and demand can be seen in the company’s completely sold-out paid pilot program for its Copilot offerings. While the pilot only got to a small subset of the customers that were willing to pay, more than 600 enterprises participated with a substantial wait list. I simply don’t see enterprises not adopting the benefits of Copilot and seeing meaningful returns on the investment in both productivity and efficiency gains.
Windows 11 updates rolling out
In addition to Surface and Copilot 365 announcements, Microsoft shared that a number of new updates to Windows 11 were being rolled out last week. These included the Copilot / Bing search and Edge web browser. Other updates include:
● Generative AI via Paint will allow users to type a description or choose a specific style so that Pain can auto-create an image to match the description.
● Snipping Tool updates, including the ability to pull out text from screenshots, as well as easily redact emails and phone numbers.
● More seamless app backups that allow users to back up apps they have installed previously to restore them, and to backup pinned app preferences.
● Customized–sleeker–taskbar options, including a throwback to Windows 10 that allows users to view app icons with labels.
● More thoughtful Notepad capabilities that will auto-save your work in case you happen to close the app before you’re through.
● Boot to the cloud functionality which will allow those using a cloud-based version of Windows will be able to log into the cloud as the primary PC experience.
Getting deep below the Surface as the AI PC is on the Rise
At last fall’s event, Microsoft unveiled its vision for the “next era of the Windows PC” with Surface Pro 9. This year’s event built solidly on that foundation with numerous Surface-related announcements, but with a strong emphasis on what I and others are beginning to refer to as the AI PC. In fact, Pat Gelsinger teased this very concept last week at Intel’s Innovation event in San Jose. In the era of generative AI there is an impending shift in platforms and formats to create more AI friendly PCs that are built for generative AI and handling powerful AI features on-device. It’s a shift that will happen over the next few years and Microsoft is showing a strong positioning to see its Surface line grow with this trend. With that in mind, here is a rundown of several of the key Surface:
● Surface Laptop Studio 2: The original Surface Laptop Studio was launched in 2021. The new version is similar in look and feel to the first–it can be used like a laptop with a keyboard or be laid flat and used like a tablet. The new version, however, offers a 13th-gen Intel Core chip and Intel Iris Xe, with optional Nvidia graphics processing units: GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060, or RTX 2000 Ada Generation. Those with Nvidia graphics will also come with 120-watt power supplies. The new model has a traditional USB-A port, as well as MicroSD card reader. Where the first gen offered 32 GB of RAM, Surface Laptop Studio 2 offers up to 64 GB. According to Microsoft, it’s the “most powerful Surface ever built.” It’s twice as fast, and depending on the model, users could get up to 18 hours of battery life—which would be outstanding if it was able to perform that well in the real world. Models start at $1,999 and will be available October 3.
● Surface Laptop Go 3: This is an update to Microsoft’s entry-level laptop. It offers a 12.4-inch touch screen and 12th-gen Intel processor. And, amazingly, it weighs less than 2.5 pounds. In terms of battery life, Microsoft says it can last 15 hours, compared to 13.5 hours in the previous model. It’s also supposed to be nearly 90 percent faster than the original. Users can choose up to 16 GB or RAM and 512 GB of storage. Prices start at $799. Surface Laptop Go 3 is also available October 3.
In this video The Six Five Podcast checks in during last week’s NYC event with Matt Barlow, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows and Surface Marketing about the company’s newest Surface and AI announcements.
As it pertains to Surface, there were several other things anticipated but not announced at this event, including a new rumored Surface Pro 10, anticipated Surface Laptop 6, or Surface Go 4 for Business, which did receive an update but didn’t make the docket at the actual Microsoft Event. Surface Go 4 can dock to a monitor, but it can also be used as either a laptop with a keyboard or a tablet with a touch screen. Surface Go 4 is powered by an Intel N200 processor and boasts 12.5 hours of battery life. For me, this signals Microsoft’s continued commitment to generative AI and the AI PC. Furthermore, for Surface there’s no telling what surprises Microsoft might still have on the docket for 2023, especially with the curiously timed departure of former Surface and Windows Chief Panos Panay. Stay tuned.