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Microsoft Unveils New AI Software, Devices as It Battles Apple, Google

Microsoft Unveils New AI Software, Devices as It Battles Apple, Google
Microsoft reported that it was investigating the undersea cable outage, which had left users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa unable to access one or more Microsoft 365 services.(Photo: Jeenah Moon / Getty Images)

(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. introduced new software and computers infused with artificial intelligence features — stepping up its efforts to out-compete Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. in the dawning AI age.

A new category of AI-focused PCs will be called Copilot+PC, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said at an event Monday at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus. The machines from Microsoft’s Surface line and manufacturing partners will offer more power and will be 58% faster than Apple’s top-of-the-line MacBook Air M3, the company said, thanks in part to a special chip that’s dedicated to AI processing. The new machines will start at $1,000.

Microsoft also said OpenAI’s GPT-4o,  an updated version of its GPT-4 that’s better at handling text, audio and images in real-time, will soon come to the company’s Copilot AI assistant. Microsoft demonstrated a feature called Recall that’s designed to help users find a buried browser tab, file, email or chat, based on conversational language prompts. It will be like “photographic memory,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer chief marketing officer.

Microsoft is aiming to demonstrate that generative AI will revolutionize computing for regular consumers, not simply its corporate cloud customers.  Though the company embedded AI in its Bing search engine early on, Nadella has expressed frustration that Microsoft hasn’t launched compelling consumer products more quickly, Bloomberg previously reported. To help rectify the situation, in March he hired DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman to oversee  consumer AI efforts.

“The pursuit has always been about how to build computers that understand us, instead of us having to understand computers and I feel like we really are close to that real breakthrough,” Nadella said.

A live captions feature in Windows can translate any video content into English from 40 languages in real time. Because it’s part of the operating system, the feature works on any conferencing or entertainment apps. The company is also adding a new AI co-creator program that uses machine learning models to turn basic sketches into more complex images.

The Recall feature relies on several language models embedded into Windows and lets users set certain content as private so it cannot be archived by the AI software. More broadly, the features use a new layer of software called the Windows Copilot Runtime, made up of more than 40 AI models that can handle a variety of  text, visual, audio and analysis tasks.

Microsoft announced support for a new PC initiative from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., but the computers debuting on Monday all run chips from Qualcomm Inc., the software maker said. Their inclusion provides a lift to Qualcomm, which is betting its mobile phone technology is better suited to the next generation of AI-infused machines that consume more power.

–With assistance from Ian King.

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