Microsoft replaces the right Ctrl button with a CoPilot key on new Windows 11 PCs


Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft is introducing the Copilot key to Windows 11 PCs, marking the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades.
  • The dedicated Copilot key will replace the right Ctrl key on upcoming Windows 11 PCs, making it easier for users to engage with AI features in their day-to-day tasks.


Microsoft has been a pioneer in AI technology for a few years now, and it was the first company to publicly showcase the potential of Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence that the public could use to get work done quicker and easier. Today, Microsoft announced that it wants to take the “next significant step forward and introduce the CopPilot key to Windows 11 PCs.”

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Microsoft’s move to integrate AI to the nearest device in your arsenal shouldn’t be surprising for many, given that Artificial intelligence has been a hot buzzword for over two years. Microsoft started incorporating Copilot and other advanced AI features into its apps, services, and even Windows 11. AI features can now be found in the entire Office 365 suite, Windows 11, several Microsoft apps, the browser, and the Bing search engine.

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In an attempt to bring AI closer to users, the company has made one small change to the traditional Windows keyboard layout. The right Ctrl key will be replaced on all upcoming Windows 11 PCs, and we have already seen this in action on the recently unveiled Dell XPS 13 lineup, announced at CES. We can expect even more computers with the dedicated shortcut key to show up at the Consumer Electronics Show next week, and in the coming months. Microsoft also revealed that upcoming Surface devices will come equipped with the dedicated key as well.

“The introduction of the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades. We believe it will empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily. The Copilot key joins the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day*. Nearly 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard that enabled people all over the world to interact with Windows. We see this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC.”

Zac Bowden from Windows Central shared that Microsoft will make the CoPilot keyboard button mandatory for OEMs shipping Windows computers sometime in the near future. As for what happens to older devices without the dedicated button, it remains a mystery. As for those who have CoPilot turned off, the key will simply open the Windows Search panel.


The CoPilot key isn’t at all surprising

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It’s fair to say that this news isn’t surprising for many, and I, for one, am surprised that it took Microsoft this long to add a dedicated key. This could’ve been added one or two years earlier for a company that has embraced AI at a level such as Microsoft. I’ve been surprised that Microsoft hasn’t integrated CoPilot and other AI features even more closely into the Windows button, but it looks like that’s about to change.

What’s confusing is why Microsoft hasn’t decided to integrate CoPilot into the Windows key. Users on Windows 11 are currently greeted with the start menu and the search bar. It seems like a missed opportunity that Microsoft hasn’t remastered the search bar function with a heavy dose of AI features that would’ve made it a far better and more competitive product. Instead, we’re getting an extra button and the removal of the context/control key that still has many use cases today. Many users are sharing their confusion and disappointment on social media, and it remains to be seen how committed Microsoft remains during this transition period.

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