Microsoft Can’t Recall On Its Copilot+ PCs

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This week marked the official launch of Microsoft’s AI PC program, the Copilot+ PCs, featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus System on Chips (SoC) processors. Unfortunately, it did not go quite as Microsoft had anticipated because one prominent feature, Recall, had to be pulled from the final operating system deliverable due to privacy concerns. Obviously, this led to several humorous headlines about Microsoft recalling Recall. That said, Microsoft and Qualcomm are fully committed to the launch of the Copilot+PCs. The companies are setting up retail kiosks throughout the country in stores like Best Buy promoting these new PCs from various OEMs. Because of the sudden change in the operating system, many of these systems did not get into the hands of reviewers before the launch. Aa result, there are few reviews available at launch time. Tirias Research will also be providing a review in the future.

A key aspect of the AI PC program from Microsoft has been the integration of a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) into the AI PC SoCs with at least 40 TOPS of performance. In addition, at least 16 gigabytes of DRAM are required. Given that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite is the first and currently only SoC that meets Microsoft’s criteria, it is the lead processor for the AI PC program from Microsoft and is presently the only official Copilot + PC SoC supported by Microsoft. Later this year processors from AMD and Intel are expected to deliver the necessary performance for the Copilot+ PCs, but the exact schedule for Microsoft support of the Copilot+ features has not been announced.

There could be confusion regarding what a Copilot+ PC can do because the early release of the product does not have the full feature set promised by Microsoft. A prominent feature promoted by Microsoft is called Recall. The Recall feature allows the Copilot + PC to aggregate information about the user as the PC is used. The on-board intelligence extracts information about users as applications, emails, schedules, and other such personal information through a series of screen shots. Recall allows the user to then request specific prior content and the Copilot assistant would be able to then locate and deliver that content. However, the Recall feature was pulled from the release just before the release.

Recall was pulled because of public concern about how the data was stored in the PC and how protected it was from attack. This information should be highly encrypted and protected on the device so that anybody who gained access to the device couldn’t easily access this information, but this was not confirmed by Microsoft. As a result of the public backlash, Microsoft plans to make three major updates to Recall: making Recall an opt-in experience instead of a default feature, encrypting the database, and authenticating the user through Windows Hello.

Apple has also announced its Apple Intelligence program slated to be launched in the Fall that heavily focuses on modest AI functionality and enables users to use AI features for advanced searches and content creation. Apple has emphasized that all of this information is strongly protected and privacy maintained putting pressure on Microsoft to provide an equal level of privacy and protection.

The other concern with the Copilot+ PC program is that at some point in the near future both AMD and Intel will ship Copilot+ compliant processors, (AMD’s Ryzen AI, and Intel’s Lunar Lake) and yet Microsoft has not committed to Copilot+ support at the launch of those products. Support will come sometime later when an update is provided to the operating system. This has the potential to confuse customers about what they’re buying whether it’s an AI PC with Copilot+ or not depending on how the new Copilot+ PCs are ultimately marketed by the OEMs.

It was now up to the market to decide whether the new Snapdragon X Elite SoCs can deliver the promised PC consumer experience with better battery life and enough compatibility to overcome the different instruction set. Even without Recall, the Copilot+PCs offer productivity and creative features that should be appealing to consumers. We will report our experience in a future story.

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