What’s going to drive Copilot+ PC sales, do you think? Superb AI acceleration chops? Windows on Arm getting emulation nailed for fast app and gaming performance (on Snapdragon X models)? No – it’s the Copilot key on the keyboard, dummy.

Surprised? Well, we certainly are, but apparently one of Microsoft’s selling points for Copilot+ PCs is the dedicated key to summon the AI on the keyboard.

We can draw that unexpected conclusion from a move Microsoft just made which seems pretty mystifying otherwise: namely the removal of the keyboard shortcut for Copilot from Windows 11.

As flagged up by Tom’s Hardware, the new Windows 11 preview (build 22635) in the Beta channel has dumped the keyboard shortcut (Windows key + C) that brings up the Copilot panel. This is an update that just happened (on June 19), after the preview build initially emerged on June 14.

Microsoft explains very vaguely that: “As part of the Copilot experience’s evolution on Windows to become an app that is pinned to the taskbar, we are retiring the WIN + C keyboard shortcut.”

An Acer Swift Go 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)

Analysis: A cynical move by Microsoft?

What now? How is removing a useful keyboard shortcut part of the ‘evolution’ of Copilot? Surely, it’s a step backwards to drop one of the ways to invoke the AI assistant to the desktop?

Now, if Microsoft had big plans for the Windows + C shortcut elsewhere, say another piece of functionality that had come in which required this particular combo, the reasoning might at least be a little clearer. But by all accounts, there’s no replacement function here – Windows + C now does nothing.

As for the reason somehow being tied to Copilot shifting to become an app window, rather than a locked side panel in Windows 11, we don’t see how that has any relevance at all to whether you can open the AI with a keyboard shortcut or not.

As Tom’s Guide points out, seemingly the driver for this change is to make the Copilot key on the keyboard a more pivotal function, replacing the shortcut, but guess what – you only get that key on new Copilot+ PCs (right now anyway). So, the logical conclusion for the skeptical is that this is simply a fresh angle on helping to stoke sales for Copilot+ PCs.

It’s not like you can’t just click on the Copilot icon, of course, so you’re not lost at sea with no AI assistance all of a sudden – but that’s not the point. It is a lost convenience, clearly though, and it feels like a cynical move by Microsoft.

Tom’s Guide points out that you could use third-party key mapping software to restore the functionality of this particular shortcut, but the point is, you really shouldn’t have to bother jumping through such hoops. Come on, Microsoft – don’t pull stunts like this, or, if there is a good reason behind the change, share it, not some waffling soundbites about evolving Copilot.

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