Microsoft to launch AI devices, features ahead of conference

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Microsoft is set to unveil a range of hardware and software developments for consumer devices at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

Among the anticipated reveals are updates to the Surface Pro tablet and Surface Laptop, which will feature Qualcomm chips based on Arm Holdings’ architecture.

This move marks a significant departure from the dominance of Intel processors in the personal computer market. Qualcomm and other manufacturers of low-power Arm components have been striving to establish themselves in the Windows-PC arena.

The upcoming devices will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chips, equipped with a neural processing unit tailored to accelerate AI-centric applications, such as Microsoft’s Copilot software.

While Microsoft’s product event coincides with the commencement of its annual developer conference, it will be accessible only to attending journalists and industry analysts, with no live-streaming option available.

Microsoft’s strategic goal is to maintain its lead in delivering AI tools that resonate with consumers. Its collaboration with OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, positioned it ahead of rival tech giants like Alphabet in the race to dominate this burgeoning field.

Last week, both OpenAI and Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, showcased competing AI technologies capable of real-time voice responses and interruptions—a notable advancement in AI voice assistant capabilities. Additionally, Google announced the integration of several generative AI features into its lucrative search engine.

The PC industry faces mounting pressure from Apple since the tech giant transitioned to custom chips based on Arm designs, abandoning Intel processors.

Apple’s proprietary processors have bestowed Mac computers with enhanced battery life and superior performance compared to competitors’ chips, which consume more energy.

In 2016, Microsoft enlisted Qualcomm to spearhead the migration of the Windows operating system to Arm chip designs. Qualcomm currently holds exclusivity on Microsoft Windows devices, though this arrangement is set to expire this year.

Concurrently, other chip manufacturers such as Nvidia are actively pursuing initiatives to develop their own Arm-based PC chips.

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