Microsoft Build 2024 could show up Google: What we expect from Surface, Copilot and new AI Explorer

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking at Microsoft Build 2023
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is hosting its annual Microsoft Build developer conference this week starting on May 21st, and there's a lot to look forward to. New Surface devices and Copilot AI features are already center stage, including some features that could help Microsoft compete with Apple and OpenAI. 

Microsoft Build 2024 kicks off just a few weeks before Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference where it's expected to announce some major AI features. Google also just held its annual developer conference, Google I/O, which was all about its Gemini AI. So, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft's upcoming announcements compare, particularly when it comes to local, on-device AI. 

Here's a look at everything we know about Microsoft Build 2024 so far, what to expect, and how you can watch live. 

Copilot AI and "Copilot+ PCs" are the stars of Microsoft Build 2024

Microsoft Copilot logo with AI sparkle symbol, "Hi, how can I help?" is written below.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

2024 has been the year of AI, so it's no surprise that Copilot will be the star of the show at Microsoft Build 2024. Microsoft kicked things off at a private preview event on May 20 where it announced Copilot+ PCs, a new collection of AI-powered laptops with local, on-device Copilot features. 

The first round of Copilot+ PCs was announced at Monday's event, starting with a new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. Both include a wealth of on-device AI features, such as Recall, the rumored "AI Explorer" feature that allows you to search your device and apps using natural language. It uses the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) on Copilot+ PCs to "remember" content you've viewed on your device. For example, you can ask Copilot to find a document you were working on if you forgot where you saved it. 

Microsoft also unveiled Cocreator and Live Captions at the May 20 event. Cocreator is a generative AI tool that allows you to create AI-generated images right from your Copilot+ PC. Live Captions uses Copilot's natural language processing capabilities to create captions in real-time for virtually any content you want to watch or listen to. These tools are just the tip of the iceberg, too — we could see even more new Copilot features unveiled at Microsoft Build this week. 

In addition to the new suite of Copilot tools, we also expect to see Microsoft integrate Copilot into more apps. It already integrated Copilot into Windows 365 and rebranded its Bing Chat tool as Copilot earlier this year. The addition of dedicated Copilot keys on new Windows devices is also a clear indicator of Microsoft's commitment to on-device AI. So, it's a safe bet that Microsoft Build 2024 will include announcements of new Copilot integrations in Windows apps. 

New Surface hardware and Copilot+ PCs could outpace Apple M3

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite sticker on a Microsoft Surface Laptop deck with Copilot key.

(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

Microsoft's new AI features are closely tied to new hardware, including new Surface devices and laptops from ASUS, Dell, and Samsung. Microsoft unveiled updated versions of its Surface Laptop 6 and Surface Pro 10 in March, but those models were available only for business users. This week, we finally got the consumer versions and it looks like they were worth the wait.  

What's particularly exciting about these new Surface devices is the processor they're running: the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite. This highly-anticipated processor outpaced Apple's new M4 chip in benchmarks but hasn't hit the shelves in any consumer products yet. Now that's finally changing. 

Microsoft isn't the only manufacturer unveiling its long-awaited Snapdragon X devices. A slew of other powerful new devices with Snapdragon X chips were also announced today, including:  

  • Dell XPS 13, Inspiron 14, Latitude 7455 and Latitude 5455
  • Lenovo Yoga Slim 7x and ThinkPad T14s
  • ASUS Vivobook S15 (S5507)
  • Acer Swift 14 AI

These are just the first several Copilot+ PCs to be announced. There are likely many more to follow, such as the Samsung Galaxy Book 4 Edge, which is rumored to have a Snapdragon X Elite chip. 

Once we get a chance to test these exciting new devices, we can finally see how the Snapdragon X processors compare to Apple's M3 and M4 chips in everyday use. Microsoft Build is just getting started, so we could see more new Copilot+ PCs unveiled in the days and weeks ahead. 

How to watch Microsoft Build 2024

If you're excited to see Microsoft's Copilot and Surface announcements at Microsoft Build, you can watch along for free with the official event livestream. You can register online to view the livestream on the Microsoft website or turn on notifications for the official Microsoft YouTube channel to watch there. 

The big event to watch for is the keynote on May 21st, which will begin at 9 a.m. PST/12 p.m. EST. If you can't watch live, don't worry. We'll be covering all the highlights and announcements from Microsoft Build 2024, so stay tuned for more news, rumors, and product reveals. 

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Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards