What you need to know about the Copilot+ reminder on Windows 11

Among all the big splashy declarations of Microsoft Build, since the launch of all new “Copilot+” PC with Snapdragon X Elite chips has new software, perhaps the most notable offering is Recall. It’s an always-on screenshot time machine that’s supposed to let users research every last minute of their PC existence, from browsing to watching videos to using apps.

For some users, the idea of ​​their PC constantly recording them sounds like a nightmare. As with any software you follow, Microsoft has tried to address a multitude of privacy details that might come up with Recall. However, a few minor details could spoil the promise of a PC that truly remembers everything you do on it.

Microsoft has repeatedly claimed that the program will not send any information to third parties and that all your data is encrypted on the device and linked to your user profile. Gizmodo has reached out to Microsoft to see if any part of the AI ​​process is handled through the cloud, although we have yet to receive a response.

The reminder is supposed to work thanks to the NPU that powers the Snapdragon chip in the X series. It is not yet known whether some of the background screenshot or review of your history will impact the processor or the PC’s GPU.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried a permanent time machine for PCs. The company had tried features like System Restore that allowed users to restore their computer to an earlier point in time, but this was more about helping recover from a crash or bug rather than providing a “time machine” under Windows.

In a interview Speaking with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said it was something Microsoft had always wanted to have on PCs. Yet we are still “in the very early stages of understanding how we should shape our relationship with AI agents.”

Even though we’ve seen it in action under Microsoft’s controlled showcase, there are still a few variables to consider. Although Microsoft promises that you will be able to delete everything the feature captures, you may need to do some work beforehand to ensure that it won’t automatically start capturing your private photos or specific sites you might visit and you have not already specified.

Which PCs are being recalled?

The upcoming Surface Laptop will be one of the first PCs to have the snooze feature enabled by default.
Picture: Microsoft

Copilot+ PC users will find the application as an icon in their taskbar. This will allow them to access the feature’s UI, but you’ll need to go into Settings to change exactly what the PC will automatically record. The main app includes a single search bar and a list of results that can be pulled from your apps. Microsoft only showed it when working with File Explorer, the Edge browser, and other 365 apps like Word or PowerPoint. Each result in the form of textual or visual matches will establish a history of your browsing or use of the application.

Currently, only Copilot+ PCs will have access to Recall features. Gizmodo reached out to Microsoft to ask if other upcoming “AI PCs” powered by Intel’s Core Ultra 7 or 9 chips will also have access, but we don’t have an answer yet.

Microsoft stated in its FAQs on the feature it is currently working with Intel and AMD to bring Copilot+ PC features to other laptops and desktops in the future. Only ARM-based Snapdragon X PCs will carry the “Copilot+” moniker, at least for now.

We know Intel has coming Lunar Lake chips, which he says contain NPUs with 40 TOPS of AI performance, which at first glance should be enough to handle the new feature. Last month, AMD introduced new Ryzen PRO 8040 series chips that are also supposed to handle AI tasks. For now, you’ll need a PC with a Snapdragon X Plus or Elite chip to access Recall.

The reminder will consume some of your PC’s storage

Carolina Hernendez, principal product manager of Windows AI experiences, shows how Recall was able to find past searches on Pinterest for a blue dress.

Carolina Hernendez, principal product manager of Windows AI experiences, shows how Recall was able to find past searches on Pinterest for a blue dress.
Photo: Microsoft

The booster will take up a lot of space on your hard drive, which could prove a problem for those who don’t opt ​​for 1TB SSDs on their new Copilot+ PCs. Microsoft has stated that the minimum disk space needed is 50 GB for those above 256 GB. You will be able to increase the amount of space available for Recall, but anyone who plays on PC knows how quickly 50 GB increments can scale. stack and flood a disk. For computers smaller than this amount, the default will be 25 GB of your disk space, enough to hold only three months of snapshots.

You can disable it if you don’t want it to chew up your hard drive, and you can manually limit the amount of storage space you’re willing to allocate to the new feature. Once the PC reaches the set limit, it will delete the old screenshots to accommodate the new ones.

Does the reminder keep the data on the device secure?

Image from the article titled What you need to know about Copilot+ Recall, the AI-powered time machine in Windows 11

Picture: Microsoft

This is a big point of contention for Recall. Microsoft tried to get ahead of itself by saying that none of users’ screenshots would be accessible to anyone not using your Windows profile, not even Microsoft.

All screenshots are supposed to be encrypted and kept on PC disk. Screenshots are tied to a user profile on the device, so if you have two separate profiles you won’t see each other’s screenshots, but two users on the same profile will.

As for what Recall won’t capture, that will be up to each user to define manually. Recall does not record the Edge browser’s InPrivate mode, similar to Chrome’s Incognito mode, but this is not a guarantee if you log in with another browser. Microsoft promises that it will not record DRM-protected material.
You also need to manually set which websites or apps you don’t want Recall to keep tabs on.

Reminder will not hide passwords you enter. It will not hide sensitive documents or your financial information. If someone has access to your computer, be aware that they may be able to see your history of when you entered your bank account password, although they may not record your precise entries . If a website doesn’t hide your password or if you click the icon to reveal what you typed, Recall might record it.

What existing applications is Microsoft borrowing from?

Macs already have a feature called Time Machine, which is primarily used for backing up files to an external hard drive. However, Microsoft has its version with features like System Restore. The reminder is reminiscent of the Mac application called Rewind. The app creates a searchable record of your daily activity, whether it’s browsing or doing a Zoom interview. You can also search for something you read or what someone said in an article or video. CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman happens to be a big investor in Rewind.