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Microsoft Copilot+ PCs finally launch, here’s everything you need to know

New AI-powered laptops and tablets are just around the corner...
Last Updated on June 19, 2024
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Microsoft is the latest company to pivot towards AI technology, with the first new Microsoft Copilot+ laptops announced at their recent conference. The new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop claim to be the fastest and most intelligent PCs that the company has ever produced, and they have the data to back it up.

As the new AI-powered laptops launch, early adopters are already praising the performance of their Arm-based Snapdragon processors.

We’ve broken down what we know about the new AI-powered Copilot+ units: from the release date to the ramifications of these new processors on both Microsoft and the market. Microsoft has promised big things for the new range of laptops, with some impressive initial specifications. If AI is the future, then Microsoft are staking a considerable amount on the technology.

Top Microsoft Copilot+ PCs – right now

What is Copilot+?

These Surface devices will be the first to launch with Copilot+, an AI-powered unit designed to upscale everything in your Windows device. Microsoft has fully committed to AI development, and the results are an interesting blend.

On the one hand, the Copilot+ system helps optimize your PC process – redirecting processes between CPU and GPU to ensure smooth running. This will mean everything, from render times to battery life, can potentially be maximized with very little hands-on work from the user. Another fascinating feature of Copilot+ is the live translation capabilities. Able to subtitle 44 languages in real-time from videos or video calls, the applications of this technology are stupendous.

On the other hand, we’re a little cautious about “Recall”, the AI-based organizational tool used in Copilot+. The AI tracks the content you look and interact with across all platforms, so that you can – appropriately – recall it with a neural command. If you can’t remember which document had some specific information, or want to find a particular product that you’ve seen, Recall can help. It is disconcerting, however, that it is constantly monitoring you. Microsoft says that all data is stored internally – and is therefore private – and settings can be tweaked to your particular needs, but it’s still quite the intensive AI use. Likewise, artists may find that the Cocreator tool to be somewhat insulting: effectively a version of Dall-e or Photoshop’s generative fill that comes packaged with Copilot+. Given that the majority of creatives rail against AI use in art, this may not be received well.

Overall, the Copilot+ launch and subsequent development will be interesting to follow. Some features may be added or removed as Microsoft adjusts to the AI world, so it will be curious to see whether Copilot+ sinks or swims.

Microsoft Copilot+ Release Date

Microsoft announced that the first two products to feature Copilot+ would be the new 7th Edition of the Surface Laptop and the 11th Edition Surface Pro. These two devices released on the 18th June. Beyond the AI implementation, the new units feature a gamut of new upgrades that will be appealing to longtime Surface users.

Copilot+ Recall Postponed

Our hesitation regarding Recall may be well-founded: as of June 14th, Recall is no longer set to launch with the new Copilot+ PCs – a mere four days before the June 18th launch. Instead, testers on the Windows Insider Program are being used to stress-test the AI before a formal product launch. Our particular concerns about personal data may have been vindicated, too, with the press release regarding the recall of Recall saying:

“Additionally, as we shared in our May 3 blog, security is our top priority at Microsoft, in line with our Secure Future Initiative (SFI). This is reflected in additional security protections we are providing for Recall content, including “just in time” decryption protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security (ESS), so Recall snapshots will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates.”

Source: Pavan Davuluri, Windows

The press release details how Recall will be developed in conjunction with the SFI, but reiterates that Recall is still secure and protective of users’ data. We’re not convinced, however: having to pivot so rapidly after announcing Recall as a standout feature of Copilot+, and retracting it a few days later and a few days from a major product launch is enough to set off alarm bells. We don’t think it’s a Hal-9000 situation, but there must be a major flaw in Recall’s operation for such a reaction.

Microsoft Copilot+ Specs

Microsoft has released specifications for two variants of each new Surface product: four products total. Here’s what to expect inside your new Surface model:

Microsoft Surface Pro OLEDMicrosoft Surface ProMicrosoft Surface Laptop 13.8″Microsoft Surface Laptop 15″
CPUSnapdragon X EliteSnapdragon X PlusSnapdragon X PlusSnapdragon X Elite
GPUAdreno Integrated GPU (3.8 TFLOPs)Adreno Integrated GPU (3.8 TFLOPs)Adreno Integrated GPU (3.8 TFLOPs)Adreno Integrated GPU (3.8 TFLOPs)
RAM>32GB LPDDR5x16GB LPDDR5x>64GB LPDDR5x>64GB LPDDR5x
Storage>1TB SSD>512GB SSD>1TB SSD>1TB SSD
Screen13″ 2,880×1,920p, 120Hz OLED13″ 2,880×1,920p, 120Hz sRGB13.8″ 2,304×1,536p, 120Hz IPS15″ 2,496×1,664p, 120Hz IPS
Operating SystemWindows 11Windows 11Windows 11Windows 11
Weight895g895g1.3kg1.7kg
RRP$1,500$1,000$1,100$1,300
The current Surface specifications (via CNET)

The new Surface models run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X processors, which are set to be game-changingly fast. The reveal drew direct comparison to Apple’s Macbook Air M3, and claimed the new Surface was 58% faster in sustained performance. How much weight that claim holds remains to be seen, but the initial tests highlight a speedy response.

Graphically, the products all use an integrated Adreno graphical architecture, assisted by the Copilot+ intelligent process allocation – more on that below. In terms of what you see on the screen, the different models each boast a large high-resolution screen for 4K viewing. Depending on your choice of model, you’ll have different resolutions.

Likewise, the dedicated RAM on each model varies – though it’s all LPDDR5x. Storage-wise, each has an SSD with different thresholds on the maximum capacity, with the largest storage being a terabyte. With prices starting at $1,000 for the most barebones Surface Pro, Microsoft are marketing these high-performance laptops as the future of their brand.

Are Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs faster than Apple’s Macbook Air?

Microsoft demonstrated the new speeds of the Copilot+ aided Surface devices, with some notable performance boosts. Using a simulated browsing session, the Surface Laptop had a battery life of 16 hours, 56 minutes – beating out the latest Macbook Air, which only lasted 15 hours, 25 minutes. The company claimed that this battery efficiency meant a 20% improved battery over Macbooks.

More importantly, the new Surface systems scored highly in Tera-Operations per Second (TOPS): effectively how many problems a processor can solve per second. The Macbook M3 is capable of 18 trillion operations per second, which is far from a poor benchmark, but the Surface blew that performance out of the water at 45 TOPS. This is where that “58% faster” statistic from before seems to have been demonstrated, with mind-boggling speeds.

But in terms of moment-to-moment performance, how does this affect the Surface? Microsoft’s demonstration used encoding a 4K video file as a “real performance” example of what these statistics mean in practice. As anyone adroit in digital imaging knows, encoding video formats as large as 4K takes a lot of processing power. Rendering the same clip, a Macbook M3 takes 6 minutes, 26 seconds; whilst a Surface Laptop was able to do so in 5 minutes, 8 seconds. Practically, this means that Copilot+ devices take less time to do more.

Though we’ll have to take Microsoft’s word on it until proper benchmark tests can be done, it looks like Copilot+ devices are crossing the finish line first in every category.

How the Copilot+ PC launch could change computing

We’ve seen a flurry of fields engaging with AI and developing new industry-specific uses for it. From improved subject detection in camera autofocus systems to graphical upscaling in GPUs. Copilot+ is a tailor-made AI platform that dynamically improves PC performance, and promises to fully integrate with an array of popular apps and programs. Features such as Auto Super-Resolution, which uses the Neural Processing Unit to dynamically upscale graphics, will be game-changing for PC gaming. And with the promise of compatibility with Adobe Suite and DaVinci Resolve – alongside another slue of software – we can expect some truly boosted performance. For developers and consumers alike, Copilot+ can make for an excellent tool.

FAQs

When is the Surface Pro release date?

The new Surface Pro releases on the 18th June.

Is the Surface Pro OLED?

You can choose between a Surface Pro with a standard sRGB screen or an OLED screen, for different prices.

In Summary

With the new Surface release date just around the corner, it won’t be long until we get our hands on Microsoft’s new AI-powered devices. Whether Copilot+ is a success or not remains to be seen, but the initial outlook is cautiously optimistic. If the new Surface models can truly outperform Apple’s top-end Macs, then this new generation of laptops will be decidedly Microsoft’s.

If you’re more of an Apple person, check out our guide to see which Mac you should buy in 2024.

Angus Warrender is a PCGuide Writer and Editor. He's interested in a range of tech, from cameras to consoles, and has an eye for spotting the best products on the market!