Last week, Microsoft hosted an event in New York City for a select group of press and analysts, including Moor Insights & Strategy CEO and chief analyst Patrick Moorhead and me. The event featured some annual fall product launches, plus a substantial focus on AI. Highlights included the introduction of new Surface laptops, a Windows 11 update (available September 26) with over 150 new features and the general availability of Microsoft 365 Copilot (on November 1). The event’s centerpiece was a unified AI-driven Copilot designed to work across different devices, applications and the web.
The event wasn’t small for exclusivity’s sake, but for the sake of clarity. Amongst all the clutter and noise around AI—What’s real now? What’s in the future? When is that future?—this event created a setting where the face-to-face conversations went well beyond the sound bites of press releases and blog posts from senior executives.
Microsoft’s event included a series of presentations from the senior leadership team. More importantly, it involved direct-access conversations with top executives, including Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella. In these conversations, we drilled down into the company’s AI strategy, responsible AI, and security and how a unified Copilot experience will boost productivity and streamline everyday tasks.
I’ll share some standout moments from the day and behind-the-scenes learnings that bring meaning and context to the announcements.
A unified Copilot for work and life
Microsoft has integrated AI-driven Copilots into its flagship products to enhance search, coding, productivity and more. Up to now, these Copilots have been disparate and inconsistent across apps. By contrast, the latest evolution is “Microsoft Copilot,” which now refers to a unified AI companion experience that harnesses web intelligence, enterprise data and real-time user context. This functionality will be accessible across Windows 11, Microsoft 365, Edge and Bing. As Microsoft expands Copilot’s capabilities and connections, the company aspires to provide a holistic AI experience throughout users’ lives, including not only work tasks but also shopping, quickly extracting things like flight data or delivery confirmations from email and more.
Microsoft was the first to use the term “copilot” for an AI assistant, and many other companies like Salesforce have since followed suit. Microsoft acknowledges it cannot trademark Copilot, but still sees value in the moniker. Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president and consumer chief marketing officer at Microsoft, said in a small-group discussion with analysts that the company hopes to “Kleenex it.” That’s not a precise comparison since Kleenex is the trademarked name that people call other tissues, but I see where he’s going in terms of connecting the Copilot name to the Microsoft brand.