Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

In a bid to accelerate AI adoption, Microsoft is now pushing OEMs to develop “Copilot+” PCs. These PCs, which must meet a strict set of hardware specifications, provide users with a slew of exclusive AI features. However, we’re now learning that Microsoft’s flagship Copilot+ feature doesn’t actually require a Copilot+ PC.

All modern Windows PCs offer some on-device AI functionality, though this is usually limited to simple stuff like webcam enhancement or microphone noise reduction. Copilot+ PCs like the new Surface Pro 11 contain specialized processors with dedicated NPUs (Neural Processing Units), meaning that they’re more capable of running advanced local AI models, such as chatbots or image generators.

Microsoft wants to give Copilot+ customers something special from day one. The flagship Copilot+ feature, called Recall, allows you to use natural language to search for anything that you’ve ever done on your PC. It does this by regularly taking screenshots and building a database of your activities—you might ask, “What’s the routing number for my savings account?,” and Recall will pull the details from the last time it saw you scrolling through your bank’s website.

Privacy concerns aside, Recall sounds very impressive. It’s no surprise that such an advanced feature comes with some strict hardware requirements. Unfortunately for Microsoft, we’re now learning that these hardware requirements are bunk. The Recall feature doesn’t need a Copilot+ PC, nor does it need NPUs.

Albacore, someone who could be best described as a Windows Detective, managed to get Recall working on “unsupported” hardware (a Snapdragon 7c+ Gen3 chipset, to be exact). The app runs smooth and doesn’t lack any of its normal functionality, even in a relatively weak virtual machine. Kevin Beaumont, a self-described “cybersecurity person,” also got Recall working on a non-Copilot+ system.

Evidently, Microsoft is limiting the Recall feature to Copilot+ PCs for marketing purposes. The company could absolutely offer this feature on less powerful machines but chooses not to. Perhaps this is for the best, as many Windows users fear that Recall may pose a major security vulnerability.

Note that the Recall app preview isn’t readily available for x86 PCs. Apparently, Microsoft is artificially limiting this preview to Windows on ARM hardware in hopes of driving Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and other “Copilot+ PC” sales. So, for the time being, those who want to play with Recall on an “unsupported” PC will need an ARM-powered system like the 2021 Surface Pro X or 2023 Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Go (Albacore tested Recall on both a VM and the Galaxy Book 2 Go).

Source: Albacore via The Register

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By John P.

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