Microsoft to introduce “AI PC” branding

How to arm twist EOMs with plausible deniability

2012 Microsoft LogoIt looks like Microsoft is introducing a new ‘brand’ for PCs, the AI PC. SemiAccurate sees through this transparent attempt to strong-arm PC makers but we thought you might care anyway.

If you have been following the PC space as long as we have, you will have seen dozens of these ‘requirements’ before, some public with a brand or sticker program, others well hidden. None have actually benefited the users when everything is taken into account but, well, that doesn’t seem to be Microsoft’s objective in any of the cases. The goal of course is control over OEMs and the ability to force them to stop doing things Microsoft doesn’t like.

The hidden stick behind the carrot of a sticker is price. In most cases Microsoft says ‘thou shalt do X’ and that is somewhat innocuous. What isn’t public is that if the OEM doesn’t do X, they pay more for Windows, usually enough more that their product is effectively priced out of the market. Based on many talks with OEMs, several report that extraneous things are often brought into the negotiations, Chromebooks with performance above a certain level are often mentioned. What do the sticker requirements and the things Microsoft doesn’t like have to do with each other? Nothing but that is the point. These exercises aren’t about doing what is obliquely stated, they are about control over OEMs and providing a new place to apply something that looks to us like abusive monopoly power.

The first one of these SemiAccurate can recall is the Multimedia PC program, basically a sound card, CD-ROM, and Windows 3.0. (Note: We realize this program wasn’t officially Microsoft administered but they had a big hand in it.) This one was explicit. Not getting the Windows ready sticker if you didn’t meet the boot speed requirements a few years ago was far less so. That one was insidious because it was nebulous and could, according to several sources, have the hard and fast requirements readily traded away. Users ‘benefited’ by having more expensive PCs and less choice of competition, but also got PCs that booted 4 seconds faster than in an actual free market. Yay?

The industry is littered with dozens more cases, and not just from Microsoft, Intel did a lot of this too. That said we are here to tell you about the latest case, the Microsoft AI PC coming to a store near you next year. What does it do? Not much because the Copilot that is built into Windows has nothing to do with the potentially useful and expensive version in Office. Then again the Office version costs $30/user per year so there is no way Microsoft would include it in PCs for ‘free’. Microsoft is willing for force bundle things to stifle competition but never when it could impact things they sell. Think IE and Office, which one got bundled and why?

Back to Copilot for Windows, it is made by a completely different team than the Copilot for Office. The Office one can make presentation templates, draft emails, summarize documents, and so on, all with only a medium number of silent errors. In some cases it can actually be useful too so putting that into Windows is a good thing, right? It would be if Copilot for Windows could actually do any of those things but it can’t. It can, with a very long guide as to how, find a folder for you. But it can’t open it. Nor can it summarize a document like the Office version because, well, they want you to pay for such things every month.

So what are these requirements to get the sticker that does nothing? It is actually pretty simple but at the moment, there seems to only be one SoC that meets that ‘high’ but entirely artificial bar.

Note: The following is for professional and student level subscribers.

Disclosures: Charlie Demerjian and Stone Arch Networking Services, Inc. have no consulting relationships, investment relationships, or hold any investment positions with any of the companies mentioned in this report.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate