New Microsoft Surface Devices and Copilot Updates Unlock Power of AI


This Week in IT, Microsoft announces AI hardware in new Surface devices and updates to Windows 11, Windows 365, and Microsoft 365 to get AI into the hands of more people. I look in more detail at the announcements and how these changes could affect the way we all work.

Links and resources


This Week in IT, Microsoft announces AI hardware in new Surface devices, plus updates to Windows 11, Windows 365 and Microsoft 365. I look at the announcements in more detail and how they could affect the way we all work. So stay tuned for the latest AI and productivity news from Microsoft.

Welcome to the show where I talk about everything connected to Windows, Azure and Microsoft 365.(…) But before we get started, I’ve got a quick favour to ask you. About 70% of the people who watched last week’s video weren’t subscribed to the channel and as we go live today we’re on about 3,690 subscribers. Now this week I’d really love that if we could push that up to around 3,750.

So if you’d like to help us meet our goal then please subscribe to the channel and don’t forget to hit the bell notification to make sure that you don’t miss out on the latest uploads. Now if you remember back to November last year, remember that Microsoft released co-pilot for Microsoft 365 and this has now become available to businesses of all sizes.(…)

Now today Microsoft had its advance in the new era of work event where they announced some updates to this and some new hardware that’s really designed to help get AI in the hands of more people. So as Microsoft sees it they have this technology but it’s really now about getting people using it and taking real advantage of it and that’s what today’s events really focused around.(…)

So Microsoft has said that with co-pilot for Microsoft 365 since it’s been in preview and up until today’s event they’ve seen data that shows on average employees are saving about 10 hours of work a month. Now why that may not seem anything extraordinary, it’s not insignificant as well but I think that Microsoft is going to have to wow us a little bit more in terms of the time saving and productivity enhancements of co-pilot before we’re going to be really sold on it.

So Microsoft wants people working with AI regardless of the device they work on and that’s partly where the new Surface devices come in and they also talked a little bit about AI in terms of managing your IT infrastructure things like Windows Auto Patch, the AI features in Intune and some updates to Windows 365.(…) Of course that’s all about getting AI enabled there as well. So at today’s event we had the Surface Pro 10 and the laptop 6 for business announced.

Now this channel isn’t about hardware reviews so I’m not going to do that, I’m not going to tell you too much about these devices but just give you a quick overview of what they’re really about. So the main thing about these new devices is that they’re using new CPUs from Intel so the Ultra Core H series so of course they are fast and powerful but the most notable thing about these devices is that they have a neural processor on board, I believe that is the first time for Surface devices.

So a neural processor or NPU as they’re sometimes referred to is designed to enable AI features in Windows like Windows Studio Effects for instance without taxing the CPU too much. So for instance if you put a background blur on a Teams or a Zoom meeting you’ll know how that really taxes the CPU and GPU. The MPU is designed to do the work required to make that happen and do it efficiently as well. Of course that’s important if you’re using a notebook which most of us do these days in terms of battery life and not just guzzling a huge amount of power in general.

These are secured core PCs, they’re rated energy star efficient and they have enhanced sign-in security enabled by default and it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you remember I think it was about six weeks ago or something like that Microsoft announced it would be introducing a new co-pilot key, a dedicated co-pilot key on new hardware and these Surface devices come with that. Microsoft also touted the Surface management portal for Intune. I’m not exactly sure what this is but I believe it’s a dedicated set of management features that only work with Surface devices within Intune.

I could be wrong about that, do let me know in the comments below but that’s kind of what I understood so I guess that’s just another selling point for businesses to use Surface devices and there need to be some selling points because of course these devices don’t come cheaply. Now there are also changes to co-pilot in both Windows and Microsoft 365. I think the most significant thing that they announced again today but it’s not new, they did announce this a few weeks ago, is that Microsoft 365 and Windows co-pilot are being combined.

So for instance when you open Windows co-pilot there’s going to be a toggle and you’ll be able to switch it on, it just says it’ll work and that will basically flip you over to using co-pilot for Microsoft 365 within the Windows for co-pilot window and of course that makes absolute sense, you don’t want these two things necessarily segregated but that toggle switch gives you the option to segregate them and to do you know to put queries in separately as and when you need to do that and I think that’s really important.

Now Microsoft has been talking a lot about Windows co-pilot in the event and they’re saying a whole load of things about it which aren’t really true today. So they say that it’s going to be your AI orchestrator in Windows, you know it’s going to allow you to manage your productivity across lots of different windows and apps and applications and you know you won’t have to go into each separate application and work with the AI,(…) Windows is going to allow you or Windows co-pilot is allowed is going to allow you to do everything from one place.

Of course we know that’s not going to be quite true, it’ll all depend on the integrations with different third-party apps, of course it will eventually work with the order the Microsoft 365 applications but today you know it’s pretty basic what you can do there and this is basically kind of a promise that Microsoft seemed to be making but don’t think you can do that today by any stretch of the imagination.

I expect we’ll see some of these orchestration features start to come in with Windows 11.24 H2 so that’s the big update that’s coming to Windows 11 later this year. Microsoft did talk a little bit about Windows 365 as well because they want people using AI there as well so Windows 365 cloud PCs are getting support for GPUs so probably as you well know GPUs play a really important role in AI and AI tasks so that’s going to be a big bonus for people using cloud PCs and Microsoft is introducing automated and intelligent AI cloud resizing for your cloud PCs.

The timing of these two new Surface devices is a little bit strange in my mind, not really because they’re focusing on artificial intelligence as such but because of the chips of course the Intel chips with these MPUs. Well of course that’s better than not having an MPU and you’ve got a more powerful processor there but I think what most people are really interested in is seeing the new X-Elite chips from Snapdragon this year which Snapdragon is promising are going to be a challenge to the Mac you know M1, M2, M3 chips and that’s probably what most notebook users really want to see at the end of the day and we know that those ARM chips of course come with all sorts of AI capabilities much like the Intel MPU is providing today.

In terms of Windows Copilot I’ve already said the value of it today is really very limited but also Copilot for Microsoft 365 I think is quite you know it’s in its infancy that’s for sure. Microsoft is charging a lot I mean I think it’s $360 a year per user and you know the integration features for the generative AI in the applications it’s nice but it’s not a must-have in my mind. All the other features in terms of the stuff that it can do with your data what Microsoft calls the grounding with the Microsoft 365 graph is interesting providing you have a reasonable amount of data in your Microsoft 365 tenant so that might mean for smaller companies that would be interested in really using AI it’s going to be of limited value because it might be that you only use Microsoft 365 for some things you might use it for chat like Teams chat you might use it for online meetings instead of Zoom for instance.

But if you’ve got your email somewhere else and your files stored somewhere else then of course Copilot has very limited knowledge about your organization because that data’s not there or it might be even if you’re fully in on Microsoft 365 that you just don’t have enough data there for whatever reason for it to really be able to provide you with intelligent information about your organization.

What I’m really interested in seeing over the next year is how this is going to work with third party platforms and applications.(…) If you have a look today with Copilot in terms of the add-ons for teams that work with it there’s very very few things like Trello come to mind and what those add-ons really give you I’m not sure we don’t use Trello at work so I don’t know what kind of information that really brings to the table for Copilot to work on but it’s all about the information it’s all about what Copilot has access to at the end of the day and organizations are complex they’re not necessarily just in Microsoft 365.

So I think is this going to be worth the asking price really depends on how you use Microsoft 365 today but I think it’s going to be difficult for Microsoft to sell this to anything but the really large enterprises with that kind of price tag. It’s interesting how Microsoft is placing windows at the center of the AI experience and these promises that Microsoft is making they’re not reality today but if Microsoft could get this right and deliver on those promises then I could see windows becoming something that people really care about again.

I read recently just something about Linux and people saying well Linux wasn’t designed for the cloud and well it wasn’t nor was Windows but if you think about the three main operating systems like Mac OS, Linux and Windows, Windows really does seem to be a little bit of a step ahead in terms of cloud integration provided you’re all in a Microsoft of course and now with AI Microsoft is pushing ahead with this so it’s really exciting it’s exciting to see what’s coming up with the big update to Windows 11 this year and how this is all going to integrate with Microsoft 365,(…) AI and hopefully make us a lot more productive really exciting stuff.

Let me know what you think about the new Surface devices are they something that your organization might consider purchasing are they too expensive have you been using CoPilot for Microsoft 365 yet or is it way out of your budget or if you have been using it are you impressed or not I’d love to know what you think in the comments below. If you found this video useful I’d really appreciate it if you gave the video a thumbs up because it helps to grow the channel on YouTube.

I’m going to leave you with another video about the new Outlook for Windows client which you might find interesting so do check that out but that’s it from me this week and I’ll see you next time.