New AI PCs will revive PC-Mac rivalry: Microsoft’s CEO

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is betting a new generation of computers with specialized artificial intelligence chips and faster performance will revive the long-running rivalry between Windows PCs and Apple Inc.’s Mac.

“Apple’s done a fantastic job,” Nadella said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday. “We now want to bring real competition back to the Windows versus Mac.”

Microsoft unveiled a new category of AI-focused PCs called Copilot+PC. Thanks in part to a chip dedicated to AI processing, the company said, the machines from Microsoft’s Surface line and other manufacturers will be more powerful and 58 per cent faster than Apple’s top-of-the-line MacBook Air M3. The new hardware will start at $1,000 and ship on June 18.

Apple is playing catch-up with Big Tech rivals in AI but is poised to lay out an ambitious strategy at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month. The company is placing high-end chips — similar to ones it designed for the Mac — in cloud-computing servers created to process the most advanced AI tasks coming to Apple devices, Bloomberg reported previously. Simpler AI-related features will be processed directly on iPhones, iPads and Macs. 

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Apple will focus on features that make life easier for users as they go about their day — say, by making suggestions and offering a customized experience.

Microsoft is leveraging its relationship with leading AI startup OpenAI to forge an early lead in the burgeoning field of generative AI services. But the partnership has come under regulatory scrutiny. Officials in the US, Europe and the UK are examining Microsoft’s AI investments, as well as those of its rivals, to determine whether they impinge on competition or should be regulated more similarly to mergers.

Nadella said his company’s partnerships are increasing competition in the nascent field rather than constraining it.

“Today there is formidable amount of competition, right?” he said. “Whether it is between the big players or the small players. So I don’t think that this is about any one company acquiring or not acquiring, but it’s about competition.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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