New Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 | Copilot+PCs

Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7

After unveiling the next generation of Windows and Windows hardware (the PC), Microsoft also launched (available to order today), the first of their flagship Copilot+ PCs – the new Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 – both powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite and Snapdragon X Plus Chipsets.

Surface Pro and Surface Laptop start from £1049 and are available on pre-order today!

Key themes are improved environmentals (more than 72% recycled components), repairability, ARM (Qualcomm Snapdragon powered), upgraded screens and cameras.

New Surface Laptop

The latest Surface Laptop offers a modern design with ultra-thin bezels, a vibrant touchscreen, an AI-powered camera, superior audio quality, and a new haptic touchpad. This comes in both 13.8” or 15” screen options and are available in four different colours – Platinum, Black, Dune and Sapphire .

Surface Laptop 15″ version provides up to 22 hours of video playback, while the 13.8” version offers around 20 hours – a staggering increase over previous iterations of the device making them perfect for hybrid, remote work and education. These both deliver exceptional performance and cutting-edge AI features.

Microsoft say it is 86% faster than Surface Laptop 5 and can power up to three external 4K monitors. As a Copilot+PC it’s new NPU delivers a staggering 45 TOPS NPU unlocks new AI experiences and delivers industry-leading performance for seamless productivity. It includes a large variety of ports and features Wi-Fi 7 technology. .

This has been redesigned from the inside out and is sleeker than ever before. It also has a brand new PixelSense touchscreen display with razor-thin bezels and 120Hz refresh rate, HDR technology, Dolby Vision IQ™vii and Adaptive colour technology which adapts perfectly to light for indoor or outdoor use. This generation, while including super responsive multi-touch, does not support use of Surface Pen and neither will Surface Laptop moving forward.

New Surface Pro

The newest Surface Pro builds on what has always been great with Surface, providing a versatile 2-in-1 laptop device redesigned for increased speed and longer battery life and to enable groundbreaking AI capabilities.

Powered by Snapdragon® X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus processors, Microsoft say these deliver performance that is 90% faster than Surface Pro 9. They support up to three external 4K displays, with two USB 4 ports, and a new 13” display (with optional OLED with HDR technology). Surface Pro comes with Wi-Fi 7 and optional 5G to keep you connected where ever you are.

Camera’s get an upgrade too, with ultra-wide, quad-HD front-facing camera – the best Surface camera ever. This makes the new Windows 11 AI-powered Windows Studio Effects like Automatic Framing, keep you in focus, even as you move around your space. The upgraded 10MP Ultra HD rear-facing autofocus camera also supports 4K video.

The new innovative Surface Pro Flex Keyboard, usable both attached and detached, offers improved stability, integrated storage and charging for the Surface Slim Pen. It also has a quiet haptic touch pad. Microsoft say that Surface Slim Pen also gets better – ink  flows which feels more natural with Zero Force inking, ultra-precise shading, 4,096 points of pressure sensitivity and a built-in haptic engine for a more natural writing experience… These are also backward compatible with previous Surface Pro models!

The Surface Pro incorporates a higher percentage of recycled materials compared to the Surface Pro 9, featuring 72% recycled content within its enclosure. It is also designed to be serviceable, with an increased number of replaceable components, such as the motherboard, battery, and cameras, among others..


It’s great to see Microsoft offering their customers more choice in this new realm of AI PCs with both Intel and Qualcomm options.

What do you think about new line up?

Copilot+PC – Fastest, most AI-ready Windows PCs ever built.

Today (20th May 2024), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a new category of PC that features the latest generative AI tools built directly into Windows and powered by the latest generation of AI computing hardware. Microsoft say this is “the most significant change to the Window platform in decades“.

Microsoft said this entirely new class of Windows PC is engineered to unleash the power of distributed AI in conjunction with the latest generation of AI-Powered chip sets from Qualcomm which bring new AI hardware which will power these new AI features which will be “part of” the Windows OS.

Microsoft call this new category ‘Copilot Plus’… which will see the creation of the latest, fastest, most AI-ready Windows PCs ever built. Copilot+ PCs represent a significant advancement in computing, offering powerful performance and pioneering AI capabilities. Equipped with Snapdragon® X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus processors, these PCs are engineered to provide peak processing efficiency and swift response times.

Microsoft have also announced today, their first Copilot+ PCs, in both the new Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 – both powered by these new AI Chipsets. They are also working with Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung who will also be bringing their Copilot+ PCs to market.

Here’s the Sizzle Video.

Copilot+PC – Microsoft (c)

As Microsoft took to the stage in front of the world’s tech press, they said that they estimate more than fifty million “AI PCs” will be sold over the next 12 months, given the appetite for devices powered by ChatGPT-style technology.

“…more than 50 million AI PCs will be sold over the next 12 months”

Satya Nadella | Microsoft.

The Copilot+ PC is here

The concept of Copilot+ PC is not merely to offer a handful of AI features. Instead, it is about having a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) on a Copilot+ PC that continuously runs multiple language models in the background of Windows 11. These models will monitor all your activities on your PC to provide contextual information whenever you need to prompt Copilot effectively. Microsoft refers to this functionality as Recall, describing it as a “sensor for AI.”

Satya Nadella announcing the Copilot+PC
Satya Nadella announcing the Copilot+PC

As suggested in the sizzle video above, this implies that a Copilot+ PC can retrieve a line from a document you write or reviewed days earlier, remind you of a commitment or action you made in an email last week, or monitor your web browsing to suggest frequently visited websites and services based on your current activity or “intent”. Whilst there are clear privacy concerns, Microsoft claims that Copilot+ becomes an AI superpower when fully operational and respects your privacy at all times – helping you to do more.

Constant monitoring will be at the heart of a Copilot+ PC, but Microsoft say that it’s substantial AI computing power can do much much more. For example, there will be many creative tools that leverage AI, ranging from Photoshop’s generative AI fill to Microsoft’s AI image generation, to AI video and voice effects in meetings. With a Copilot+ PC, these functions are executed locally on the device – saving time, reducing the need to rely in cloud services and reducing CPU workload and power consumption.

Microsoft have said that users will always be in control and will have the option to disable the always-on AI tracking and to be able to review and delete these AI snapshots individually.

To be classed as Copilot+ status, PCs must be able to deliver at least 40 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) of AI processing power from the Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This represents a significant increase from previous offerings, such as Intel’s Meteor Lake, which provided only 10 TOPS from the NPU.

Under the Hood of a Copilot + PC

So, what is powering these new Copilot+ PCs? Despite Microsoft announcing the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for business earlier this year, the new Copilot+ PCs are not powered Intel or AMD chips.

“Over the past year, we have seen an incredible pace of innovation of AI in the cloud with Copilot allowing us to do things that we never dreamed possible…..

Now, we begin a new chapter with AI innovation on the device…..

We have completely reimagined the entirety of the PC, from silicon to the operating system, the application layer to the cloud, with AI at the center, marking the most significant change to the Window platform in decades”

Microsoft (May 2024)

Instead, the initial series exclusively features the Snapdragon X Elite or Snapdragon X Plus chips, each boasting more than 40 TOPS of AI power. According to Qualcomm, these chips provide over four times the AI power of their competitors‘ chips and have more than enough power to run the latest AI infused games.

The Copilot+PC also include the dedicated button to prompt the Copilot AI assistant at any time.

Security is also AI Powered

Microsoft focussed heavily on Security. As with the current ARM powered devices such as the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 9 5G, every Copilot+ PC comes secured out of the box.

The Microsoft Pluton Security processor (which goes way beyond TPM) is activated by default on all Copilot+ PCs, and they are introducing several new features, updates, and defaults in Windows 11 24H2 that will simplify, yet enhance user security. Additionally, Microsoft are integrated additional personalised privacy controls to safeguard personal and sensitive data.


Microsoft’s vision is to ensure this new AI standards for PCs will enable the next generation of AI development which is timely given their annual Build Conference runs this week in which they will be driving new development capability to develops eager to ride the AI gravy train for Windows system and application development.

As the primary investor in OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, Microsoft also confirmed that the newly announced GPT-4o model, which powers the chatbot, will also be integrated into Copilot+ PCs “soon”. GPT-4o is currently available in preview in Azure AI.

Microsoft Surface – Are you ready for what m”ai” be next?

Next week is Microsoft Build, and the day before (that’s Monday 20th May), Microsoft is set to host a significant event in-person in Seattle about the the future and of Windows, Surface and Copilot.

The event (which is not being live streamed unfortunatley) takes place at 17:00 UK Time (10:00am Pacific Time) and will showcase (I hope filled with the famous Microsoft sizzle videos) the next wave of innovation for Surface, Windows and Copilot powered by new AI powered chipsets…

As usual Microsoft has not disclosed specific details about what is being announced, but there have been many “suggestive” leaks, predications and teases about what is coming. What we do know is that this will be a big and “special” announcement.

This year, Microsoft have already launched the first generation of new AI PC with the release of the Surface Pro 10 and The Surface Laptop 6 which were built on the new Intel AI Boost technology – which you can read more about here.

So what is being announced?

We know this is a pretty big annoucement and we do know that this is the year of AI and the year of the AI PC, so we can expect some pretty exciting annoucements. Despite the various leaks, we wont know until monday what is actually coming, but we do know that Microsoft’s previous product updates were only around the Intel based devices and their ARM powered devices haven’t yet received an update.

Windows Insiders will be well aware of the all the AI innovating coming to the next generation of Windows 11 so we can expect some new AI wow to be announced for Windows 11 as Microsoft gear up for the 24H2 update coming later this year.

Next Generation of Windows and Surface (and Copilot)

Given the new Qualcomm chipsets such as the Snapdragon Elite X, it would make sense for this to feature in the announcements. These new chipsets (which I discussed here) provide huge NPU capabilities which are needed to process AI workloads efficiently without sloooooooowing down the device so it will be exciting to see if these feature in the future of Surface and Windows!

Will Copilot work “locally/Offline?

What? Well today, all the AI and Copilot experiences we have seen with Windows 11 (and Microsoft 365 Copilot) take place in the cloud, but I also wonder if Microsoft will discuss their plans and advancements around local/on-device Generative AI experiences. With the newer AI Boost PCs from Intel, what is now available with Qualcomm and what Microsoft have in their arsenal with Copilot and OpenAI, it will be interesting to see what Microsoft can tell us about how they could de-couple the AI experiences, providing the ability to run local LLMs “on chip”. This of course is as much about the software (Windows OS) as it is the hardware that powers it.

What about Windows 365?

I hope so – since Windows 365 is very much part of the Windows story and I’m hoping we will hear some updates about what is coming to Windows 365. We have seen huge performance and boot time increases this year, new innovation with Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch (i have covered this in another blog) so be great to see what is next for Windows 365. There were also many things annouced over the past 12 months such as offline mode that haven’t yet made it to market – could this be finally coming?

Introducing the new Surface IT Toolkit

The new Surface IT Toolkit which was officially released on April 25th 2024, promises to be a significant tool to help IT managing and optimise their coporate fleet of Surface devices.

We are excited to announce the Surface IT Toolkit, a modern desktop application that compiles essential commercial tools and streamlines the Surface device management experience for IT admins – all in a single application.

Microsoft.

Replacing an older mixture of admin tools, the refresh and centralising of these essential tools into a one application should simplify the deployment and management process, addressing the common challenge of using disparate tools across various locations and versions. This should greatly enhance efficiency and ease of use for IT admins.

What is in the Surface IT Toolkit?

The Surface Tool kit contains a number of new and updated apps. These are:

  • Data Eraser – Which is a NIST [Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1 NVM Express] compliant data erasure tool that also includes the ability to create certificates of sanitization for compliance and auditing. This is beneficial when repurposing, recycling, or retiring a device to guarantee that no sensitive data is left on it.
  • UEFI Configurator – enables IT to implement Surface Enterprise Management Mode (SEMM) UEFI configurations on Surface devices and peripherals such as Surface docks and other accessories. The UEFI configurator allows IT to efficiently and consistently manage and disable components at the firmware level. This enhances security and compliance by safeguarding against unauthorized modifications to device settings. For example it could be used to prevent the camera being used to comply with privacy in schools, or block USB ports being used to connect to external disks for data compliance.
  • Recovery Tool – This feature enables a full device reset, reverting it to its factory state for troubleshooting and re-building purposes. It also manages previously downloaded factory images for reuse, helping to resolve common issues and restore the device’s original performance. The latest update provides a new guided process and no longer requires the serial number to be entered. It also includes ability to build from new or build from an existing image.
  • Tool Library – The updated Tool Library houses the most recent versions of supplementary tools and installers for deployment to end users, offering IT descriptions of their functions and links to the most up-to-date documentation. This tools here include the Surface Asset Tag Tool, Surface Diagnostic Toolkit for Business, Surface Brightness Control Tool, among others.

Video: Install and using the Surface IT Toolkit

Here’s little video that shows the relevant webpages, installing the toolkit and first run experience and tools available.

Usng the Surface Tool Kit.

For more information from Microsoft on this – use the following link

How do I get the Surface IT Toolkit?

You can grab the IT Toolkit from Microsoft > here <.

AI-PCs – what’s the hype all about?

The new buzz in the world of PCs is all about the “AI PC”. This term is the latest messaging being banded around from PC/Laptop manufacturers with a view to ensure that people, families and organisations are taking this next generation of PC into account when planning their legacy hardware upgrades over the next 12-18 months.

AI analytics and modeling require vast amounts of data, which are best suited for cloud, but performing some workloads at the device level delivers more efficient processing, or inferencing, by being offloaded to the device. These efficiencies could be applied to:

  • Visual inferencing: AI applied directly to the camera feed
  • Audio inferencing: AI applied to audio inputs
  • Live transcription: AI applied to language processing

New AI-PCs are being designed and built with specialised processors (NPUs) to support executing those models, and more, locally, in real time.

You don’t need to look very far to see the phrase “AI PC” everywhere both from Intel and leading device manufacturers including Microsoft, but what is the tech behind the latest tech phrase?

You may be aware that Microsoft recently launched the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 – both of these fit into the new “AI-PC” catagory!

Note: AI is the capability of a computer program or a machine to "think, learn, and take actions without being explicitly encoded with commands".

So what is an AI PC?

In short an AI-PC needs to have these three key components:

  • An Chipset with a new NPU, CPU and GPU built-in
  • Windows 11 and Copilot in Windows
  • A Copilot Key (technically).

Of course CPUs and GPUs have been around for a long time, but it is the NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that is new in PCs and it is this that is the key part of an AI-PC. The NPU (or AI-Boost as Intel calls it) is designed to process AI workloads locally rather than in the cloud which brings many improvements for the user, including processor efficiency, improved battery life and increased security.

The NPU is a dedicated microprocessor designed to efficiently handle AI-specific tasks, such as executing predictive models, processing machine learning algorithms, or powering generative AI applications.

Surface AI-PC – Available on Surface Pro 9, 10 and Surface Laptop 6

The Intel Core Ultra processors featured in AI-PCs like Surface Pro 10 and Laptop 6 provide a holistic approach to running AI workloads on PC. These different processors offer programming versatility to developers that maximise the three type of microprocessors – CPU, GPU, and their new, integrated NPU. With an AI-PC, each microprocessor (compute engine) has its own specialisation, but in the context of AI on Cloud PCs mean they work together when using AI workloads with:

  • The CPU being ideal for general and traditional compute workload as well as light-weight, single inference AI tasks. Think “accelerating cloud-delivered AI” while minimising impact on overall system performance.
  • The GPU being ideal for AI infused into media and 3D rendering apps and tasks. Users can perform data visualisation tasks, create and manipulate 3D images, or generate elaborate reports, enabling your team to efficiently tackle complex data workloads.
  • The new AI-Boosting NPU which is designed specifically for sustained and efficient offloading of AI models such as Windows Studio Effects.

What are the benefits of an AI-PC?

In short – performance, battery life and enabling new AI-Powered experiences.

Windows and many other apps have AI features within their applications sets, but put simply with AI-PCs these AI features and tools will work much quicker and will unlock additional NPU-Specific features.

The NPU is a dedicated microprocessor designed to efficiently handle AI-specific tasks, such as executing predictive models, processing machine learning algorithms, or powering generative AI applications. The image below shows the difference between a video app’s back-ground blur using a CPU vs an NPU. The device on the right is a Surafce Pro 9 with dedicated NPU and it is easy to see how much better the AI effect is when it is processing the AI workload locally.

Image showing the difference between a video app’s background blur on a CPU vs. an NPU.

The key thing about the AI-PC is the impact on the CPU processing AI workloads when there is an NPU present. With AI features like voice and video effects in Windows and the wealth of AI features in apps like Adobe, CPU workload is dramatically reduced as the NPU does the AI grunt work (and is far more efficient at running them) This leads to a more efficient device, increased battery life and a more responsive OS and applications for users. The image below illustrates the impact savings running smilar tasks on a PC vs an “AI-PC”.

Image (c) Microsoft – March 2024

AI-PCs will empwer and improve many experiences – as compute for AI workloads moves to more local-mode and hybrid-mode processing. This goes beyond just video effects and speech and will include things like object detection “seeing AI”, gesture tracing, security and many more.

Intel claim that “AI PCs with an Intel Core Ultra processor are able to edit videos more than 230% faster and perform AI image editing tasks 52% faster.

AI PCs are also set to be defined by how they align with Microsoft’s Windows operating system as well. One of the most consumer-facing AI products right now is Microsoft Copilot, which is slowly rolling out to Windows 11 devices and we’re set to see a dedicated Copilot key on some laptops in the future too. Over time this will also take advantage of local AI-processing with AI-PCs

Note: Today, Copilot operates in the cloud and thus does not utilize a computer’s onboard NPU. However, this is expected to change, as Microsoft has announced plans for new system architectures that will enhance Windows AI experiences by integrating the GPU, CPU, NPU, and the cloud.

Will the birth of the AI-PC reboot the PC market?

I think the AI PC will be the PC of the next decade.

The PC market has been in decline for several years, but IDC predict that 2024 is estimated to see a 3.7 percent year-over-year increase in shipments, ending the decline the market has seen since the highs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are seeing Microsoft, Dell, HP and Lenovo, jumping on AI PCs and with the next two years likely to be the time that more organisations really start to experiment and test AI within their organisations, the rise of the AI-PC is set (according to IDC) to kickstart the PC business again.

Surface Laptop Go 3 Review – Value, Quality, and Agility

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 (released at tail end of 2023) is the latest addition to the Surface Go family, along with its sibling the Surface Go 4 (2-in-1). This gorgeous, light weight device is a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to delivering high-quality, agile, and aesthetically pleasing devices that offer great value for money.

Quality and Looks

Available in a wide choice of colours, Surface Laptop Go 3 sports a sleek and compact design that is both light weight, sturdy yet still premium. It features a premium aluminum chassis on the lid and keyboard deck, giving it a high-end look and feel, along with reposing touch screen (but no pen support), Secure Core Architecture and Windows Hello sign in via Fingerprint Reader. It is worth nothing that the Surface Laptop Go 3 is the only device in the Surface Family that lacks pen support and Windows Hello face recognition sign in.

Surface Laptop Go 3 is available in 4 colours – Platinum, Ice Blue, Sage and Sandstone.

Performance and Agility

The Surface Laptop Go 3 is equipped with an Intel 12th Gen processor, which provides a solid performance for everyday tasks. It’s available with up to 16GB of RAM (the model I have been using has 8GB) making it capable of handling multiple applications simultaneously without slowing down. It is a device capable of anything outside of intense gaming or complex video editing.

Despite its compact and lightweight size, Surface Laptop Go 3 doesn’t compromise on screen quality. It features a 12.4-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1536 by 1024, providing users with a bright and clear display for all their computing needs even outside.

Value for money

The Surface Laptop Go 3 brings, in my opinion, great performance and power in a sleek chassis given its price point. It it not as powerful as its bigger sibling, the Surface Laptop, but at price of around $799 you get a premium device, which is repairable, sustainable, great looking, lightweight, and practical for almost any task (work, school, or home).

Comparisons with Similar devices

When compared to similar devices, the Surface Laptop Go 3 holds its own in terms for premium feel and weight, though the slight price increase over the previous generation, and competitive nature of this market, does finds itself up against some very serious competition including last year’s Surface Laptop Go 2 and the Surface Go 3, which features a smaller chassis and a lower price point.

Using it on the Go

Using Surface Laptop Go 3 is great when on the move. The “almost” full size keyboard, makes it feel like you are working on a much larger device, but it is much lighter to carry around in a bag, use on the train, coffee shop or anywhere. To be honest, it’s a great device for working anywherem with more than enough horse power for work and home use.

Battery life is not as good as devices like the Surface Laptop or Surface Pro and lasted me a full 5 hours of constant use, including being on wireless, working in Outlook and PowerPoint, using Copilot and taking part in Teams Video Calls. I carry a USB charger with me for my phone and it’s great that I can also charge my Surface Laptop Go 3 with the same power-bank which easily gives me a full day’s work in the vent I cant get to a power outlet. For internet, I simply use free wi-fi where I am, or tether to my mobile which works great.

If you do need a device with 4G/5G built in, I’d suggest Surface Go or Surface Pro which provides options for eSIM or physical SIM.

Windows 365 – a great companion.

Using Surface Laptop 3 as a personal device (as I have here) with Windows 365 makes loads of sense here in this scenario, offering a seamless blend of seamless and secure connectivity to work resources without breaching corporate policy or compromising usability. Using Surface Laptop Go with my dedicated Cloud PC through Windows 365 is a game changer.

The video below shows me connecting my new personal Surface Laptop Go 3 to a monitor and keyboard and then using Windows 365 Switch to simply move to my highly available, secure, and persistent Cloud PC.


Moreover, the Single Sign-On (SSO) feature of Windows 365 adds another layer of security with convenience. With SSO, this means I simply launch the Windows App, (which then integrates with the task switcher in Windows 11. I sign-in with my company Entra ID SSO. This means I can simply sign-in to my personal device and then quickly to my company Windows 365 desktop to get access to my corporate desktop, applications, and resources and I don’t need to mix personal and work staff on the same device – meaning no annoying corporate policies on my personal device, no security / compliance risk for my company and only need to carry one device. The USB-C charging of the laptop is also great as I just plug into a monitor, use the keyboard and mouse and I’m off!

Conclusion

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 is a device that offers a blend of value, quality, looks, and agility. While it faces stiff competition from similar devices, it stands out with its sleek design, solid performance, and quality build. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or a casual user, the Surface Laptop Go 3 is a definitely a device worth considering.

Pavan Davuluri now in charge of Windows and Surface.

Surface Under One Roof

Following Panos Panay’s competitor move to Amazon last year, Microsoft split up the Windows and Surface management structure with Pavan Davuluri looking after the Surface division and Mikhail Parakhin leading a new team that looked after Windows and web experiences.

As of this week, these divisions have again been consolidated, like they were under Panos, with both Windows and Surface being run by Pavan Davuluri. Pavan has been with Microsoft for more than twenty-three years and was a huge driver behind the recent custom-designed Surface processors (SQ) developed in collaboration with Qualcomm.

According to a memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft says merging the two teams will “enable us to take a holistic approach to building silicon, systems, experiences, and devices that span Windows client and cloud for this AI era.”

Pavan Davuluri – Microsoft Surface and Windows Chief 2024

Personally, I think its great to see the reunion of Windows and Surface teams under Pavan which sits within Microsoft’s Engineering and Devices organisation, headed by Rajesh Jha.

This move also comes after Microsoft’s appointment of DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman as CEO of a new dedicated AI division within Microsoft which has presumably prompted a re-evaluation of their team structures as Microsoft look forward to an FY25 fueled by new advances in Copilot, big updates in Windows and Microsoft’s new AI-PCs.

Reflection

This move is welcomed by Windows enthusiasts, as it promises increased collaboration and cohesion between Microsoft’s hardware and software endeavours and just makes sense to see development of the OS that powers Surface (and of course the other OEMs) being overseen by the same person.

Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 – The new AI-PCs from Microsoft

Microsoft has just (21st March 2024) announced their 2024 AI-powered flagship devices – the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6. Both devices are AI-PCs, packed full of the latest AI hardware to designed to deliver the best performance of the next wave of AI powered apps such as Copilot for Windows, Copilot for Microsoft 365 and of course other AI powered applications from other software vendors such as Adobe. These new devices will yet again setting bar of how to make enterprise class devices for Business.

Video (C) Microsoft

Both the Surface Pro 10 and Laptop 6 also come with a new Copilot key, putting Copilot front and centre and showing that Microsoft means business when it comes to AI PCs and Copilot.

These new AI-PCs are aimed at business users and not consumers……currently!

When are the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 Available?

Both the Surface Pro 10 and Laptop 6 are available to pre-order now on Microsoft’s website. The devices will be released on April 9.

Introducing Surface Pro 10

Surface Pro 10 yet again improves on the previous version. In the case of Surface Pro 10 we see a huge improvement in power and performance boost over the previous Surface Pro 9 model thanks to the latest Intel Core Ultra processors which boost performance by 53%. As an AI-Powered PC, Surface Pro 10 also features a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) which does the core Edge processing of AI tasks, reducing load on the CPU and processing AI tasks significantly faster than a CPU does.

Surface Pro 10 | Image (c) Microsoft

The Surface Pro retains the same design and format of its predecessors, but does include a new screen which is now non-reflective and 33% brighter, making it much easier to use outside and when travelling, while also retaining the same battery life. Microsoft also provide more configuration options than ever with options for Intel Core Ultra 5 135U or Intel Core Ultra 7 165U processors and support for RAM configurations from 8GB to 64GB.

Surface Pro 10 also gets a front camera upgrade and comes with a brand new 1440p webcam with a 114-degree field of view. This, combined with the new Windows 11 Studio effects and the Core Ultra’s NPU for AI workloads enables brings new capabilities for video enabled applications and clearer images.

Surface Pro comes with Thunderbolt 4 ports as standard for connectivity and charging but still includes the staple Surface connector port for connections to Surface Docks and Surface Chargers. You also still get USB-A and microphone jack. There is no SD-CARD slot which is something I still think is a poor decision but hey – nothings perfect.

Connectivity and working from anywhere continues to be a big theme for Surface Pro, with Surface Pro 10 being the first Surface device to support 5G.

Introducing Surface Laptop 6

Available in 13.5-inch and 15-inch models, Surface Laptop 6 combines the sleekness and modern design of a premium laptop with the processing power of a desktop, supporting for the first time, Intel’s H-series processors without compromising on weight, thickness or prestige creating a power house of a laptop, second only to the Microsoft Surface Studio Laptop 2.

Surface Laptop 6 | Image (c) Microsoft

During Microsoft’s live event in the US, they showcased the Surface Laptop 6 connected to multiple 4K screens, running video calls, complex graphics apps, Visual Studio and other apps showcasing the sheer grunt work and power of the device. Leveraging options to choose the Intel Core Ultra 5 135H or Core Ultra 7 165H processors means that Surface Laptop 6 can run at twice the performance of the Laptop 5.

The Surface Laptop 6 stands out not only in performance capabilities but also in its range of specifications catering to various user needs. At its base, the device is equipped with 8GB of RAM, which is quite generous for standard tasks, yet it offers scalability up to an extraordinary 64GB of RAM for those requiring intensive computational power for tasks such as data analysis, programming, video editing, and more.

In terms of storage, this now starts at 256GB Gen4 SSD, ensuring quick boot times and efficient data retrieval. For users with higher storage demands, this can be configured all the way up to 1TB of storage capacity, allowing ample space for large files, video, multimedia libraries, and extensive software applications.

Further bolstering Microsoft’s security credentials, Surface Laptop 6 also comes with additional (optional) security features, with options to include a smart card reader (currently available solely in the US) and near-field communication (NFC) technology, which is aimed at bolstering a client’s commitment to zero-trust security principles. These features enable swift and secure sign-in and sign-out processes, particularly vital in high-risk areas where security is paramount.

Surface Laptop 6 still of course includes support for Windows Hello for Business and of course user-specific PINs, again helping to eliminate the need for cumbersome passwords. This approach to dual-factor authentication significantly heightens security, making unauthorised access exceedingly difficult.

Sustainability and Repairability

Finally, I need to mention Microsoft’s on-going commitment to sustainability and reparability. Microsoft design all their products with the circular economy in mind, with “integrity built in across the entire product lifecycle – from design and supply chain through product usage and end-of-life management”.

The new Surface devices are fashioned from recycled aluminium, which not only provides a sleek, modern aesthetic but also reduces the environmental footprint of the manufacturing process. Internally, the device now includes QR code guidance, which simplifies repair processes and effectively reduces the overall maintenance costs, further catering to the needs of businesses conscious of their environmental impact and operating expenses.

This dedication to environmental conscientiousness and user-centric design makes Surface an exemplary devices and the most sustainable devices on the tech market.

Surface for Business… What about Consumer?

Unlike in previous years, Surface Pro 10 and Laptop 6 are only available for business customers. But don’t worry – Microsoft made it clear that they “absolutely remain committed to consumer devices.” “Building great devices that people love to use aligns closely with our company mission to empower individuals as well as organisations and we are excited to be bringing devices to market that deliver great AI experiences to our customers. Todays commercial announcement is only the first part of this effort.”

Are Microsoft Changing Copilot in Windows?

This week, Microsoft shipped Windows Insider preview build 26080 (in both the Canary and Dev channels), which has introduced a way for users to release the Copilot Window from being attached to the right-hand side of the screen where it has lived since birth!

Previously, the Copilot widget opened on the right of the screen, and whilst in recent preview builds, Microsoft introduced the ability to resize it (make it bigger), it was still attached to the right side of the screen as shown below.

Copilot in Windows (attached to the right of the screen)

Detaching Copilot

With preview build 26080, it is now possible to undock Copilot, so it feels like a traditional app, meaning you can move Copilot to wherever you want to. The Copilot “app” can moved and resized as needed to make it more customisation in how you choose to work in Windows – just like you would with say the Calculator app. Bear in mind this is in preview and subject to user feedback (file in the Feedback Hub), this may not be a permanent change.

Copilot in detached mode (Windows Insiders on Canary Build).

This is rolling out for Windows Insiders on the Canary Build but will make its way to Insiders on the Dev build soon following initial feedback from Canary build testers.

Note: Microsoft use Windows Insider Builds to try new things out, seek feedback from users and to gauge how well innovative ideas and changes are received, as well as to action the feedback from users.

Copilot in Windows is also getting bigger hooks

In this preview build, Windows Insiders are also going to see that Copilot is getting new abilities to act and control the underlying Windows 11 settings. This includes the ability to perform tasks such as emptying the Recycle Bin, toggle Live Captions, toggle Voice Access, and can also ask Copilot more about various system stats such as battery information, system infrormation and also has the ability to enable battery saver.

A note on Build Numbers

Regular Windows Insiders may also notice that both the Canary and Dev Channels are receiving the same build number currently. Microsoft remind users that this does happen sometimes as during the times in which the Canary and Dev Channels are on the same builds (e.g. Build 26080), it provides an opportunity for Insiders in the Canary Channel to switch to the Dev Channel. Once this windows has passed, the Canary Channel will jump to higher build numbers and the window will be closed.

You check out the recent builds and offioial blog from Microsoft here:

Microsoft is saying good-bye to Android Apps on Windows

just three years after announcing they were bringing Android apps to Windows 11 (via the Amazon App Store), they have now u-turned and said they will be ending support for their Windows Subsystem for Windows from March 2025.

Amazon Apps on Windows

In a support article on Microsoft Learn, they said “Microsoft is ending support for the Windows Subsystem for Android™️ (WSA). As a result, the Amazon Appstore on Windows and all applications and games dependent on WSA will no longer be supported beginning March 5, 2025. Until then, technical support will remain available to customers. Customers that have installed the Amazon Appstore or Android apps prior to March 5, 2024, will continue to have access to those apps through the deprecation date of March 5, 2025“.

Writing was on the wall

Is this a strange move? Personally no. Even though Microsoft has been continually updating the Windows Subsystem for Android since it first launched, usage was low despite it being a big promotional item to drive value of Windows as a single OS for home and work. Microsoft had initially positioned Android apps on Windows 11 as a way to compete/align with Apple and their move to support the running of iOS apps on macOS. The main draw back of Microsoft’s approach was that their partnership with Amazon did not provide official access to Google’s Play Store, making it difficult for consumers to access download the more popular Android apps on Windows. Personally, I think this is the main reason Microsoft might be retiring support for Android Apps on Windows.

I had used it a handful of times, but in most cases defaulted to Web Apps or the Windows native app experience. I’m not really one to play loads of Android games so it wasn’t really a thing I envisaged using Windows 11 for.

It could have been better.

I think if Microsoft has managed to leverage this system using the Google Play Store rather than Amazon store, it could have been a different story. Selfishly, it is not a service I will miss, but it was a good way to enable people to access a wider set of apps not available for Windows 11 devices.

Microsoft need to spend more time on getting more developers to write apps for Windows. Its an age old problem Microsoft have experienced and whilst the best it is ever been, Windows is still not a default destination for apps with many apps being web apps for more common social media and gaming apps outside of the big hitting apps and those supported in Xbox and Windows Games.

Microsoft Surface Go 4 Review

Surface Go 4 Blog Cover Page

Whilst there is nothing new or standout about the Surface Go 4, it is the latest version of Microsoft’s small 10-inch tablet which is ideal for use at home, as a companion device, when travelling or when away, Surface Go is also extremely popular in education, Heathcare, front-line and field operations, retail and in call/contact centres. Surface Go 4 ships with Windows 11.

Being a huge fan of the Surface Family and being a fan of the Surface Go 2 LTE and Surface Go 3 for traveling and working on the go, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Surface Go 4 and put it through the paces to see how much compared to the previous version.

Introducing the Surface Go 4

The Surface Go 4 is looks very much the same when compared to its predecessor, the Surface Go 3 – Infact, the design hasn’t really changed since the original Surface Go. It measures 245 x 175 x 8.3mm and weighs just 529grams. It has a 10.5inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen with high quality, solid magnesium body, complete with “any angle” kickstand, single USB-C port, Surface Connect Port and headphone jack port and optional Surface Pen and Type Cover Keyboard. You can find the full spec here:

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 4

Being the same overall size and dimensions, the great thing if you are upgrading from a previous generation Surface Go is that it is fully compatible with the any Surface Go accessories such as keyboards or cases you may have. This iteration does get an upgraded chipset and therefore performance lift over the 2021/22 version and is still built with high-quality magnesium alloy body with a premium finish making it feel like a premium device – which Surface is. I do wish, fours on however, that Microsoft would have reduced the oversized black screen bezels a little as it does look a little dated compared to other tablets.

Surface Go is used a lot in education and with frontline workers. This is one of the reasons for the larger screen bezels. This makes it much easier to hold without accidently touching the screen.

Signature Look and Feel

As you expect with Surface 2-in-1 devices, Surface Go 4 gives you the familiar kickstand which is built into the back of the device and can be easily folded out to various angles making it extremely versatile as a tablet or a laptop with the optional (and not included) keyboard. The kick stand is smooth in operation and very sturdy. 

Surface Kick Stand

On the underside of the kickstand, you can find a MicroSD card slot. On the sides of the device, you will find the familiar Surface Connect port, a headphone jack and a USB C 3.1 port which can also be used for charging the device as well as connecting to a range of peripherals, docks or displays.

Camera, Video and Windows Hello®️

You get two cameras. At the back of device, there is an 8-megapixel camera which is good medium range camera for a rear camera on a laptop. At the front you get a 5-megapixel webcam which performs really well in various light settings on video calls and when recording in apps like PowerPoint and Clip Champ. Unlike the Surface Laptop Go, you do also get the additional sensors for Windows Hello and light adjustment and as always Windows Hello works incredibly fast.

Repairability and Sustainability

Microsoft have continued to improve on the repairability and sustainability of their devices and supply chain. Surface Go 4 is more repairable than ever, with the display, battery and back cover, kickstand, motherboard, microSDXC card reader, type cover connector, front, rear and Windows Hello camera, and speakers all being replaceable.

Screen

Surface Go 4 has the same 10.5-inch 10-point multi-touch, PixelSense display as its predecessor and has an aspect ratio of 3:2. Microsoft consistently uses this aspect, and it remains the perfect ratio for office or schoolwork.

Screen resolution supports 1920 x 1280 pixels, meaning you get a Full HD resolution on a 10.5-inch screen which makes it look super sharp and clear. The screen is bright, and colours are vibrant, and you also get great viewing angles. Gorilla Glass 3 also protects the screen. Touch is accurate and responsive as always.

For a late 2023 device, it's a shame that Microsoft didn't upgrade to a 120Hz panel as they have in the latest Pro and Laptop range. I would have also liked to have seen anti-glare screen options to help in outdoor or bright conditions.

Audio and Sound

Yoi get stereo sound with speakers located on the left and right of the display. Whilst sound quality is not studio level like you get on the Surface Laptop Studio, it is more than good enough for calls and watching videos when away or watching in bed. making it a great all-rounder and fine if you want to use it as an entertainment device.

Power and Performance

Microsoft Surface Go 4 is powered by an Intel N200 processor and comes with 8GB of RAM as a standard. This an improvement over the previous models which started at 4GB RAM which was simply not enough in my experience. Storage starts at 64GB SSD storage and provide options of 128GB and 256GB too. Strangely there is no LTE/4/5G version this time round.

According to benchmark reports I have seen, performance of the Surface Go 4 is slightly better than the Surface Go 3 due to the slightly updated chipset and is also more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE tablet. It falls short of the Apple iPad 9. which is to be expected.

Performance, like many things is subjective though. The Surface Go 4 (I have been using the 8GB/256GB) version which was more than sufficient for multi-tasking office apps and personal social media and video streaming apps.

Usage and Experience

Surface Go 4 is positioned as a work or school device and not designed (unlike a high-end iPad) for video editing or playing video intensive games. That said, for office apps and web applications, I noticed no performance lags at all and the device multi-tasked well. Microsoft’s Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote run smoothly and I was able to have many Edge tabs open at the same time with any issues.

Surface is also a great device for watching stuff on YouTube, Netflix, Disney +. This combined with good performance for multitasking with business or school apps, makes Surface Go 4 an affordable, practical, light weight and fully featured 2-in-1 device. I find this great when I travel or work away without having to take two devices.

Type Cover Keyboard

All previous generations of the Microsoft Type Cover for Surface Go are compatible with Surface Go 4 and the design has not changed with version 4. You can of course buy cheaper (non-Microsoft covers) or USB keyboards, but don’t. Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard is excellent.

In case you are not familiar; Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard is extremely high quality. It is made of plastic but has a very high-quality finish and a fabric-like surface. It includes a backlight and is magnetically attached to the tablet and protects the display when folded. Due to the slight angle of the keyboard that the magnetic connector creates, it makes it feel much more like a laptop than cheap ‘flat’ keyboard.

Surface Go 4 Type Cover
Surface Go Type Cover Keyboard.

The keyboard is relatively large for a small 10-inch tablet but does not feel small to use. I can easily touch type on this without effort or having to change how I type. The Type Cover is comfortable to use and much better than some of the cheap tablet keyboards I have used in the past.

There is a touchpad under the keyboard, which, while not a big as some laptops, is a good balance of size and usability whilst helping to avoid accidental touches on the touch panel.

The Surface Pen

For me, a touch screen and pen are a non-negotiator when choosing a device for work or home. Once critiqued by Apple saying that “no one would ever need to use a pen with a tablet”, Surface Pen has been a stable companion to the Surface Pro since the first Surface in 2012.

Surface Go 4 supports all previous iterations of Surface Pens (expect the ones that shipped on the first Surface Pro 1 and Surface RT devices) including the Surface Slim Pen and Slim Pen 2. The Surface Pen is very responsive and precise, and it’s fun to take handwritten notes with it. The lates

Whilst optional to buy, Surface Go 4 together with the Surface Pen and writing and graphics apps like OneNote, MS Paint, Designer, Edge, PDF etc, are what make Surface standout. Yes, you can do this on most tablets, but Surface is by far the best (and original) 2-in-1 device in my experience.

With the latest update to Windows 11, there is now also support for inking anywhere you can type in dialogue boxes.

Windows 11 brings Surface to Life

Everyone knows that Windows is not an OS designed for tablet only devices. Windows 8 tried too hard to make Tablet mode work (and was awful) and Windows 10 had various attempts at tablet mode, but Windows 11 has actually (finally) done a half decent job of adapting the OS to work with tablet devices. This includes 2-in-1s like Surface Go 4.

With Windows 11, tablet mode is switched on automatically when the keyboard is disconnected or folded back to use the device in tablet mode.

In tablet mode, the Windows taskbar becomes significantly larger so that it is easier to use with your finger or pen and the customisable on-screen keyboard opens whenever you click/tap in a text field. If have a Surface Pen, then you also get quick access to the Windows Inking features.

Within Windows, some apps are also tailored for use with Tablets, and some even adapt based on the use mode. OneNote is a good example. When using OneNote in tablet mode, the canvas gets simplified and decluttered, making it much easier to use with pen and ink.

Using Surface with Android Apps

While a Windows thing more than a Surface thing, Windows 11 supports the use of many Android apps via the Amazon App Store. To use this, you need to install the Amazon Appstore via the Microsoft Store.

Amazon App Store in Windows 11

You can then install a vast number of apps and games such as angry birds or City Mapper and use them just like any other app. Whilst you don’t get the full library of native Android apps you get in the Play store, there are thousands, and it works seamlessly once installed from the Microsoft Store.

Surface is even better with Windows 365

Windows 365 is Microsoft’s desktop as a service which is delivered as a SaaS service to business/corporate users. It is a dedicated Cloud PC which is provisioned, used, managed, and updated just like a physical PC but runs in the Microsoft Cloud. Windows 365 provides an “instant on” desktop environment than can be accessed securely from any device (or browser) and allows you to pick up where you left off, providing a seamless experience with all your corporate applications and files available wherever you need it. Since Windows 365 is a Cloud Service, access to it is secure, instantly provisioned, upgraded or updated and since it can be used on “any” device avoids the need for hardware upgrades, protects against device loss and theft and removes the data security / leakage risk of having corporate information on physical devices.

So why Surface Go 4 and Windows 365? Well, I have recently got myself a Surface Go 4 for home and family. The kids love using pen and ink and we use a Microsoft 365 Family subscription for personal, school and work stuff.

When I’m away from the office or traveling with my family, I often need to access work-related files and applications. Windows 365 allows me to securely multitask on our shared device without having to install and download apps, set up complicated VPN services, or compromise company security or confidentiality by using a personal device for work. With Windows 365, I can use my personal device as a work device and switch back seamlessly as needed. Plus, if my kids want to play with Designer or watch YouTube, I can pause what I’m doing and resume later without worrying that they will mess up any of my work.

I’ve written other posts on Windows 365 before, and for more information on Windows 365 you can check Microsoft’s official sites here.

My Conclusion

Starting at £549 in the UK (pen and keyboard separate), Microsoft Surface Go 4 is a well priced, versitile allrounder that is great for home, work, school or a combination of all (maybe combined with Windows 365).

Surface Go continues to be a great choice if you need/want a “proper” Windows based PC type device rather than “just a tablet”. This is not a device for intense gamers or graphic designers, but for everything else, it’s a great device that is well built, offers high quality, is super repairable and includes full multipoint touch, pen support and a full and versitle type cover ketboard.

The only dissapointment was battery life. Windows devices in my experience just dont have the power efficienicies that Apple iPads offer.

If you have a Surface Go 3, I would not reccommend rushing out and upgrading (unless you have an etry level one with 4GB RAM). If you do not need a Windows device or just want a tablet to watch films on and browse social media, then Surface Go may be wasted on you.

Surface Go is also a great second device. If you have a desktop for work or home (or a chunky, heavy laptop), Surface Go is a grwat choice as a flexible second device that can also be used for work with or without Windows 365 (see above).

Copilot gets cool little animations in the latest Windows 11 Insider build

The latest Windows 11 preview build is now rolling out to Insiders in the Canary and Dev Channel. This build (26052) is significant, since it is the first designated “Windows 24H2” build that has been made available to Insiders. It brings a number of new features and enhancements and Microsoft say its the beginning of what will be an AI infused set of updates that will come to Windows 11 this year.

One of the most noticeable things in this build (and partly to mark the 1-year birthday of Microsoft Copilot) is the introduction of new Copilot animations that are being tested. 

Image (c) Microsoft

The Copilot icon will now animate into a pencil or picture icon whenever you copy text or an image to your clipboard, indicating that Copilot can help you with the content you have just copied.

Interacting with Copilot Animations

Whenever content is copied to the clipboard and the intimation is show, users can hover the mouse over the animated Copilot icon to see a choice of different options that Copilot can do for you with the text or image just copied.

  • With text, you are presented with options to summarise, explain, or send directly to Copilot for further user defined queries and requests.
  • With images, you get an option to explain the image along with additional options to edit the image – which then takes you to the Microsoft Designer app.

With this build, Microsoft also supports the ability to launch Copilot by just dragging an image onto the Copilot icon in the taskbar, which then opens Copilot. If Copilot is already open, you can now also drag and drop an image into the text box in Copilot and type an action that you would like to perform on the image content.

Privacy

The content is not automatically sent to Copilot without your permission. The animation of the Copilot button is there to simply guide/remind you that it can help, but nothing is shared to the Copilot System until you choose too. Copilot can’t access your clipboard without consent.

First impressions

It’s an overall really handy shortcut, and one that will help less technically aware/savvy users that Copilot is available to help with content. I find this better than annoying advertising style pop-ups…

We are trying out a new experience for Copilot in Windows that helps showcase the ways that Copilot can accelerate and enhance your work.

Microsoft Windows Team

I especially like the drag and drop on to the Copilot logo and text input fields as this simplifies and shortens the time / steps needed to interactive with Copilot.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 features are now available from Windows 11 desktop

On Windows 11. corporate users with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license will see that premium experience is now integrated into the Copilot Windows desktop experience.

This means that users who have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license and Copilot for Windows enabled can chat with Copilot in Windows using Graph-based features.

With a unified experience across M365 Chat, Copilot in Windows 11 and the Copilot on the web experience, users can now leverage the Microsoft Graph connected features in Windows, thanks to the integration of Copilot for Microsoft 365 into the Windows desktop experience.

This experience requires users to have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license, as well as having Copilot i Windows 11 experience, making it a convenient and consisytent experience for users to access Copilot in Microsoft 365 features, along side the existing options in Teams Chat, Edge, and at https://copilot.microsoft.com.

For comsumer users wanted to leverage the advanced feaures of Copilot in their apps and services like OneNote, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, checkout Copilot Pro

New Windows Insider Build brings AI features to non NPU PCs

The Windows Insider team have released Windows 11 Build 26040 to Insiders in the Canary Channel, which is the first new build for this channel in 2024.

This build is full with improvements and fixes, but the main call out feature of this build is the addition of support for Voice Clarity on PCs that do not have dedicated NPUs. Until now, this was a feature that had been exclusive to select Surface devices with NPUs, but Microsoft are now making this available across all Windows 11 devices.

Voice Clarity uses advanced AI powered audio processing to help your voice be heard more clearly on online calls, and voice recordings even in noisy environments or when you move around the room. Voice Clarity also improves the quality of the voices you hear, making them sound more natural and realistic using a combination of echo cancelling, background noise suppression and removal of reverberation all in real-time.

Note: My understanding is that this new native OS based Voice Clarity will only activate "when the OEM device does not offer Communications Mode processing.". This means that if your device already has a noise-reduction technology (such as the Surface Pro 9) compatible with Communications Signal Processing Mode, the Windows 11 software-based Voice Clarity will not be activated and it will instead use the technology enabled by the NPU. 

Other changes in Canary build 26040

Other noticeable changes in this build include:

  • Changes to the Windows Setup experience with a cleaner and more modern experience.
  • Improvements to the screen casting services
  • Moving of the Copilot in Windows button to the right side of the Taskbar making it easier to access and closer to where the Copilot pane opens.
  • Support for USB 80Gbps has been added to support the new devices shipping with the newest Intel Core 14th Gen HX-series mobile processors.
  • A New Task Manager icon – that matches the design language of Windows 11. There’s new option to show the GPU temperature in the Performance tab.

Read the full Windows Insider Blog

Full releases notes for the latest Canary Build can be found here, along with release notes for the Dev and Beta builds which also had new builds this week.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 coming to Windows 11 Copilot.

OK.. That’s sounds confusing but here’s what it’s all about.

If you are a fan of Copilot, you’ll know that Microsoft has Copilot in Edge (formerly Bing Chat and Bing Chat Enterprise), Copilot in Windows 11, Copilot in Microsoft 365 (whixh domains the tech news last week) and other flavours of Copilot across their product suite.

Copilot in Windows will now leverage Copilot for Microsoft 365 for licensed users.

Very soon, those with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license will be able to access it right from the Windows Desktop using Copilot in Windows!…

Still confused?

Currently, you can use Copilot for Microsoft 365 365 in Microsoft’s Office apps and Teams, where you can chat with Copilot, ask questions, get answers, and generate content. But with Copilot for Microsoft 365 on Windows (that is still a mouthful), you can do all that and more, without leaving the desktop.

This means that rather than having different a Copilot experiences, Copilot in Windows will adapt based on other licenses that you have. So if you don’t have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license, then Copilot in Windows will continue to act as it does today. If you do have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license however, then Copilot in Windows will adapt and give you access to the full Copilot expeeience.

Availablity

Microsoft say that Copilot for Microsoft 365 on Windows will be available from February 5th, 2024.

Enabling Copilot for Microsoft 365 on Windows

Copilot for Microsoft 365 on Windows will not be enabled by default on managed Windows 11 devices. Enabling this will need to be done by IT admin using a temporary enterprise control while in early release meaning that organisations can choose whether to allow or block it.

Surface devices will now get firmware updates for six years

Microsoft have announced (quietly) that all Surface devices shipped from 2021 onwards will now receive firmware updates for six years (two years more than initially committed).

The documentation states that all Surface devices shipped after 1st January 2021, will receive six years of firmware updates. Devices that shipped prior to this date will continue to receive update for four years.

What Surface devices will receive six years of updates?

Any Surface device shipped after Jan 1st 2021, the following devices will now benefit from the extended firmware support cycles.

  • Surface Pro 7+ onwards.
  • Surface Go 3 onwards.
  • Surface Laptop 4 onwards.
  • Surface Laptop Studio 1 onwards.
  • Surface Studio 2+ onwards.

What about older Surface Devices?

In their documentation, Microsoft states they reserve the right to extend the firmware support cycle for any device where necessary. For example, Microsoft have already extended the firmware update life cycle with the Surface Studio 2 despite this shipping in 2018. This already has a six support file until later this year (2024).

It is worth noting that firmware updates are different to the Windows Operating System updates that devices receive through Windows Updates. Firmware updates are software updates that are applied to the hardware components of a device, such as a motherboard, a hard drive, or a graphics card. Firmware updates can improve the performance, stability, security, or compatibility of the device. Firmware updates are usually provided by the device manufacturer and can be downloaded from their website or through Windows Update.

Firmware updates are sometimes needed to fix driver compatibility issues, known bugs or security vunerabilities and may also be required (or recommended) for major OS upgrades, but are not always necessary. As such there is no issue continuing to use devices that are beyond the firmware lifecycle end date.

What do firmware updates do?

Firmware updates are software updates that are applied to the hardware components of a device, such as a motherboard, a hard drive, or a graphics card. Firmware updates can improve the performance, stability, security, or compatibility of the device. Firmware updates are usually provided by the device manufacturer (in this case Microsoft) and can be downloaded from their website or are delivered/offered directly via Windows Update.

Firmware updates are sometimes needed to fix driver compatibility issues, known bugs or security vunerabilities and may also be required (or recommended) for major OS upgrades, but are not always necessary. As such there is no issue continuing to use devices that are beyond the firmware lifecycle end date.

Firmware updates are important for Surface devices because as well as fixing bugs or vulnerabilities, they also optimise and “tune” the device’s compatibility with Windows and drivers. Typically a firmware update can improve stability, enhance the battery life and improve/tweak performance of the device, and sometimes they can introduce or activate new Windows features. Therefore, it is beneficial to have firmware updates for your Surface devices as long as possible so this extended support cycle is welcomed.

The Future Of Surface

With the departure of Panos Panay last year, many have questioned what the future will look like for Surface. We know there will be some major updates this year to the Surface Pro and Laptop lines (I’m sure you’ve seen some of the “leaks”) as they continue to press forward with updates to Windows (and the next version) which will see more AI goodness throughout the OS.

This coupled with the longer support lifecycles for their older devices also suggests a commitment to continue to innovate and lead the future vision of the Windows device eco system.

Windows 11 PCs to get Copilot key as Microsoft embeds AI in Windows.

Windows Keyboard with Copilot Button

Microsoft today, 4th Jan 2024, announced that Copilot in Windows is coming out of preview. They also announced the next significant step forward for Copilot in Windows and the future of the AI Powered PC. Microsoft say that the future of Windows, Silicon and Copilot, are the next stage of enabling the significant shift towards “a more personal and intelligent computing future where AI will be seamlessly woven into Windows from the system to the silicon, to the hardware“.

The next technology shift, driven by AI innovation is continuing to grow exponentially and is posed to fundamentally change the way we use and access technology forever.

“From reinventing the way people search with Copilot in Bing, and unlocking productivity with Copilot for Microsoft 365, to reimagining how people get things done on the PC with Copilot in Windows”.

Yusuf Mehdi | Chief Marketing Officer | Microsoft


Microsoft, in their blog, talk about 2023 being the year of the birth of Generative AI, with 2024 being the year of the AI Powered PC.

The AI Powered PC

As significant as the introduction of the Windows Key was in the 1990s, the introduction of a new Copilot key will be the first significant change (in over 30 years) that is coming to the Windows PC keyboard starting with new devices shipping this year.

The Copilot key, which will sit near the space bar and replace the right ALT-GR key on most keyboards, will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless for people to engage Copilot in their day-to-day work or lives and is designed to make it easier for everyone to be part of the AI transformation more easily.

AI – from Chip to the Cloud

In same way Microsoft approaches security – Chip, OS and Cloud, they are taking the same approach with AI. Starting with their own NPUs in Surface and now across their eco system OEM partners, Microsoft say that there is huge momentum from AMD, Intel and Qualcomm, all of whom have launched dedicated NPUs to unlock the power of edge AI processing in their latest chipsets and with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just round the corner, we expect to see many new innovation and advances coming from Microsoft and the rest of the Windows OEMs this year. This powerful combinations and advances coming to Windows OS, their Copilot Cloud system and advances in NPUs, the next twelve months seem very exciting.

Microsoft say they are committed to the pace of development in Copilot and Windows and are positioning Windows to be “the destination for the best AI experiences”. This combined with the development of their AI Cloud Services and the new local processing made possible by new hardware and silicon, will allow Windows to be an “operating system that blurs the lines between local and cloud processing“. The year ahead promises to be nothing short of extraordinary!

Note: Copilot in Windows is being rolled out gradually to Windows Insiders in select global markets. The initial markets for the Copilot in Windows preview include North America, United Kingdom and parts of Asia and South America. It will come additional markets over time.

Microsoft Surface first?

It’s unknown at the moment what OEMs will start to ship devices with the new Copilot key, but according to leaks and social media, Microsoft is rumoured to be launching updates to the Surface Pro Surface Laptop family this year and these will ship with the new Copilot key.


If you want to lean more.

Read the full article from the Windows Blog.

Read more about Copilot in Windows on my blog here.

Changes coming to Windows 11 in 2024 to comply with the DMA

2024 will see Microsoft ship their “Moments 5” update to Windows 11, which as well as the usually hunch of feature enhancements and tweaks to the OS, will also bring the necessary changes Microsoft are being forced to make in order to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

This update is expected to drop sometime in Q1 2024 following the usual testing with the Windows Insider community. It will be delivered as a cumulate update via the Windows Update service.

Moment 5 is likely to be the last Moment update for Windows 11, as there is expectation thst the next major OS update will be launched sometime in 2024.

Here’s a summary of some of the key changes you can expect.

Changes needed to comply with the DMA

  • Ability to uninstall more of the in-box applications such as Microsoft Edge, Camera, and Photos. The ability to remove Edge will be limited to users in the Europe only.
  • Start menu’s All Apps list will be renamed to All and operating system components are clearly labelled with “system”.
  • Ability to disable Microsoft News integration from the Widgets Board. This also includes the ability to replace it with third-party news services instead.

Updates and general improvements

  • The ability to ink directly into text boxes across the Windows OS.
  • The ability to use third-party search providers in the Windows Search pane
  • Ability to give friendly names to Nearby Share so you can give more readable names to make it easier to find and connect.
  • Anility to use Windows Spotlight as the default wallpaper setting
  • Voice Access is getting a new feature called “voice shortcuts,” which allows you to create custom commands that use your voice to activate. This can be used to create an action based on a custom phrase.
  • In-box app updates to Notepad, Paint and the Microsoft Store.

Updates to Copilot in Windows

  • Copilot can be “undocked” allowing apps to exist underneath the Copilot sidebar instead of being forced to appear next to it. This makes it easier to work with Copilot.
  • The Copilot interface will also show in the Windows ALT+TAB menu, making it easier to  switch to and from it.
  • Copilot will also work across multiple displays rather than just the primary.

Updates to Windows 365

  • Improvements to the Windows 365 integration in Windows 11, including allowing companies the ability to customise the login page.
  • Users will be able to disconnect from the Cloud PC via Task View or Start menu.
  • Ability to configure local device settings from the CloudPC.
  • Task View now also has visual indicators that pop up just above the Taskbar whenever you switch between your local desktops or Cloud PC using task switcher. This makes it easiet to know if you are on the local or Cloud PC.
  • Ability to use Dedicated Mode to boot to the Cloud PC from a company-owned device.

These are the main changes coming in Q1 2024 in what will be an interesting and fast paced year for updates, AI advances and new hardware for Microsoft.

For now, have a great new year whatever your plans, ambitions or dreams are..

Thanks for tuning in

Rob.

Windows 10 Security Updates to be chargeable from 2025

Just like with Windows 7, Microsoft are introducing a new “Extended Support Updates” (ESU) program for Windows 10 which will be available after the end of support date in October 2025.

When does Windows 10 go end of support?

Windows 10 goes end of support on October 14th, 2025.

What does Windows 10 end of support mean?

When Windows 10 reaches end of support, Microsoft will no longer provide bug fixes for issues, security fixes for vulnerabilities, time zone updates, or technical support for problems that might occur.

As noted on the Windows 10 release information page, version 22H2 is the final version of Windows 10. All editions of Windows 10, version 22H2 will remain in support with monthly security updates through October 14, 2025. Beyond that date, customers will need to pay for extended support updates if they wish to continue to receive security and bug fix updates.

What is the Windows 10 ESU Programme?

The ESU programme for Windows 10 is an extended support subscription, that will ensure that customers that choose to run or have technical / operation reasons why they can’t move to Windows 11 can continue to receive security updates and critical fixes for Operating System for three years beyond the October 2025 end of support date.

Whilst the ESU programme for Windows 7 was for commercial customers only, the Windows 10 ESU will instead be open to everyone. This means that consumers or organisations that allow employees to personal Windows 10 devices at work (BYOD) will also be able to pay for continued support beyond October 2025 if they don’t want to or can’t upgrade to Windows 11.

No pricing has been made available yet, but they did confirm that consumers and commercial, public sector, charity and education organisations will all be able to sign up for the ESU programme which will be available and charged for annually

If you are an individual consumer or an organization who elects to continue using Windows 10 after support ends on October 14, 2025, you will have the option of enrolling your PC in the paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) program. The ESU program enables PCs to continue to receive Critical and Important security updates through an annual subscription service after support ends. More details including pricing will be provided at a later date. The ESU program provides individual consumers and organizations of all sizes with the option to extend the use of Windows 10 PCs past the end of support date in a more secure manner.

Microsoft

Microsoft have said that they remain committed to the end of support date for Windows 10, with no plans to extend it beyond the current date of October 14, 2025. The paid-for ESU programme which will be available from November 2025 will ensure Windows 10 devices can still receive vulnerability patches, bug fixes and security patches for up to three years after this date.

ESU means Security Fixes but No new features

Microsoft made it clear that the ESU program will only provide security updates, meaning that there will be no new features or active development beyond 14th October 2025. Whilst available for consumers, the ESU program is most beneficial for commercial organisations unable to upgrade their devices to Windows 11 before support ends.

The ESU is of course optional – and customers will not be forced to pay for ESU. Windows 10 will continue to work beyond October 2025, but organisations will be at increasing risk since there will be no security updates to devices unless covered by the ESU subscription. .

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/end-of-support/end-of-support-2025.

Windows 10 end of support – Options

Options for commercial customers around planing for Windows 10 end of support are in essence

  • Move to Windows 11 on physical or virtual desktops
  • Stay on Windows 10 and pay for extended support for up to 3 years
  • Repurpose Windows 10 devices and use in conjunction with Windows 365 Cloud PC

Benefits of moving to Windows 11

Windows 11 is the newest version of Windows, and it’s one of the best Windows versions released. Windows 11 has several key differences compared to Windows 10. This is not covered extensively in this blog but some of the highlights include:

  • Most secure version of Windows ever with security that runs from Chip (silicon) through the OS and to the Cloud (Chip to Cloud).
  • Faster Boot time and Instant On – Windows 11 features instant on technology and boot time improvements of around 40% – saving on average 30 seconds.
  • Embedded AI features – from features like Copilot for Windows (also available in Windows 10), Windows 11 has many native apps with AI support. This is also a key development focus for Microsoft so expect more native AI embedded in Windows 11 through 2024.
  • Better application performance and muti-tasking management making Windows 11 faster. Microsoft say that Windows 11 does a lot of work in memory management to favour the app windows you have open and running in the foreground. This should ensure that they get more CPU power over other system resources. Windows 11 also suspends some data in RAM while your PC sleeps, helping it wake from sleep 25% faster than Windows 10.
  • New fluid UI which is modern, adaptive and well suited for new form devices, two-in-ones, multi-screen devices and for use across home, creativity, gaming and of course work.
  • Can run Android apps natively from the OS
  • Huge multitasking improvements that improve user focus and system performance with Snap Layouts that group your Windows and save them to the taskbar.
  • Improved docking experience – Windows 11 remembers how you had your windows on your external monitor(s) and brings them back to the same state when you disconnect from a monitor and then plug it back in – great for hybrid work set-ups.
  • Redesigned tablet mode experience – when you switch your device to tablet mode (for example on a Surface Pro), the device transforms and bring new gestures for opening the Start menu, dismissing windows, and more and the icons and other settings adapt to work better with touch and pen.
  • Deeper pen functionality – bringing support to “ink anywhere” in any text box and app, as well more native support in-app for pen and ink.
  • App Compatibility – customers can leverage App Assure – a Microsoft progtame that ensures and assists customers with applicatyion compatibility testing for migrations from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

Benefits of leveraging the Windows 10 ESU Programme

The key benefits to an organisation subscribing to Windows 10 ESU after the October 14th, 2025, end of support date are:

  • Continuation of security updates and patches for Windows 10 PCs for three years after Microsoft stops supporting the operating system on October 14th, 2025. This can help protect the organisation from potential cyberattacks and vulnerabilities that may arise after the end of support date.
  • More time for organisations to plan and execute a smooth transition to the next version of Windows or to move to Windows 365 Cloud PC – This can reduce the risk of compatibility issues, employee training and legacy application compatibility testing that can occur (and need to be tested) when upgrading to a new operating system.
  • Avoid the cost and hassle of upgrading or replacing their existing Windows 10 devices before they reach their end of life if needed. This can save the organisation money and resources, as well as minimise the disruption to their daily operations and productivity.

Benefits of using Windows 10 with Windows 365 Boot

To help more organisations transition or take advantage of advancements in Windows 365 (Microsoft’s CloudPC technology), Microsoft also announced that commercial customers will have the ability and option to “transform” Windows 10 devices that are ineligible for Windows 11 into a Windows 365 Cloud PC that can stream Windows 11 from the Microsoft cloud. Whilst this can be done today on Windows 11, this feature, known as Windows 365 Boot, will be extended to Windows 10 devices, allowing them to be reprovisioned by Intune (Microsoft’s Endpoint management platform) to boot directly to Windows 365. As part of this, the underlying Windows 10 OS will automatically be enrolled into the ESU program at no cost to they continue to receive security updates.

This option is only available for commercial customers, as Windows 365 is currently not available as a consumer subscription service.

Why I can’t stop using Windows 365 CloudPC

I wanted to share my personal experience of using Windows 365 Cloud PC as my main device for the past 4 weeks since getting access to this as part of our partner internal use rights!

In short, I was using this both to test it out, but also because my new laptop had not arrived so I was left with the option to re-image an old one or repurpose our “home” laptop and use it as a gateway to Windows 365 – I chose the latter.

Four weeks later, using Windows 365 every day as main device, I simply can’t and don’t want to give it up. Even though I now have my brand new and awesome Surface Pro 9 device – I still haven’t get turned this on and am still choosing to use our seven year old Surface Laptop running Windows 10 (it won’t run Windows 11) with Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Why I love Windows 365

I keep asking myself the same question – why Windows 365 Cloud PC when I have a nice new Surface Pro to use. Well – Windows 365 Cloud PC gives me a seamless, secure, responsive, and flexible experience on the same device that I (and the family) share do everything else on – it’s essentially now become two devices in one and the experience is amazing – both for corporate use and for home use with out compromising anywhere!

It’s also great to have in your pocket when you bring the wrong device to work!

Here are some of the reasons why I love Windows 365 Cloud PC and how it is totally changing my perception on Cloud Computing.

  • Seamless experience: With Windows 365 Cloud PC, I can access my Windows 11 Enterprise Corporate Managed Desktop instantly on my personal device (or from any other device), anytime and anywhere I need to. I don’t have to worry about syncing files, installing apps, or using web apps.
  • Secure and Compliant: When traveling about, I also don’t have to worry about compromising my personal and work experiences, compromising corporate security or risk having any company data leak onto my personal device or stol n from dodgy WiFi hotspots. With Windows 365, my dideicated Cloud PC is in the Microsoft Cloud – ready for me to use at any time.
  • Connecting from almost anything: I can switch from my personal laptop to my phone (I can use Samsung DEX on a TV) or even access via my Xbox via the Edge Browser. Where ever I resume from – me session is exactly where I left off.
  • Responsive performance: Windows 365 Cloud PC is fast and smooth. I can run multiple apps, browse the web, and stream videos without any lag or stutter. This means the lowest spec device can perform like a powerhouse. The best part is that I don’t have to worry about the physical condition of my device, because the heavy computing work is done on the Microsoft Cloud.
  • Lightening fast Internet speed always since my Cloud PC is in Azure, I get superfast access to the web and my cloud apps regardless of the speed my physical device is using.
  • Flexible: Windows 365 Cloud PC is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a service that can cater to different sized organisations and needs of each user.

Here’s a quote from myself about how Windows 365 Cloud PC improved my productivity and efficiency:

Windows 365 Cloud PC is a game-changer for me. It allows me to work from anywhere, on any device, with the same performance and functionality as a physical PC. I can easily switch between tasks, collaborate with others, and access my files and apps in the cloud. I literally have my corporate desktop with me on any device at anytime, wherever I go.

Pricing and Licensing

OK… So take a seat as on the surface the cost of Microsoft 365 can look expensive.

Firstly, Microsoft offers two subscription models, Windows 365 Business for smaller businesses and Windows 365 Enterprise for larger ones.

Prices are per user, per month subscription based and range from £26 per user per month for the base model (2CPU/4GB RAM/64GB HDD) but can be as much as £146 a month for a powerhouse configuration of 8 CPU/32GB RAM/512HDD.

Both models share the same range of features and provide thirteen Cloud PC configurations to choose from to blend the right spec with the right person and role of Cloud PC within the organisation. Here is the full range of specifications:

Image (C) Microsoft.

Unlike virtual apps and shared/pooled desktops (such as Azure Virtual Desktop), with Windows 365, each user gets a dedicated corporate Cloud PC, meaning it will run all the apps they need to use.

IT managers dream…

Managed by Intune: Like physical PCs, Windows 365 Cloud PC is managed from Intune. IT can Configure auto patch, install and schedule apps, use Autopilot for zero touch provisioning, reset and reissue devices, up size (upgrade) and down grade the specification on the fly. Intune provides details stats on performace, usage and even makes recommendations on down or up sizing of the PC based on usage and performace

Smooth Migrations: IT can choose between Windows 10 and Windows 11 (or make both available to users). This can also be helpful as a migration and training method to prepare users for Windows 11. IT can also choose to give users local admin control (or not) and can even allow users to reset their Cloud PC devices themselves.

Good bye to hardware failures: Since Windows 365 runs in the cloud, there’s no hardware to go wrong. If a users physical laptop (or TV, xbox, phone etc) fails, nothing is lost.. They can resume on a new/different device and session continues where they left of… Even the cursor stays in the sale place!

The downsides?

To be honest, from a user experience there aren’t many, unless you are working where there is no or poor internet access. Writing this, I am sat in Nero on “free wireless”, knowing my connection is secure and I’m accessing my Corporate Device through an encrypted connection, with no data leaking between the host (personal PC) and my corporate device.

The price tag can be “off putting” but the ROI is high when you take into account carbon reduction (runs in Microsoft carbon neutral data centres), cost of hardware, repairs, re imaging, recycling, replacement every 3 years, and costs due to lost or stolen devices. Do the maths…

Cloud PC is not for every one… You’ll find great use cases and bad ones.. Such as contractors, new starters, remote and over seas staff, developers, finance and other specific roles. I cover use cases in a separate blog post…

Note: Offline Access is coming for Windows 365

Free to try for 30 days

Organisations interested in trying out Windows 365 Cloud PC, can speak to their Microsoft Partner and obtain a free 30-day trial, or buy a subscription from Microsoft 365 admin centre.


I hope you enjoyed reading my blog about Windows 365 Cloud PC.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!