Category Archives: AI

Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS

Since last Friday (April 26) I’ve been working with the Lenovo Yoga Pro 9 laptop. It’s also called a Yoga Pro 9i. I’m a little mystified by the “i” that comes and goes for this device name. If you look at the lead-in graphic you can see the User Guide calls it “Pro 9i” while Lenovo Vantage calls it “Pro 9.” It’s an early AI PC from Lenovo, which means it has a Copilot key and a built-in AI processor, aka NPU (Neural Processing Unit). As I’m now learning, pondering AI PCs means TOPS (trillions of AI or “tera” operations per second) matter — a lot!

If Pondering AI PCs Means TOPS Matters, What’s the 9(i) Got?

According to Intel Ark the name of the NPU integrated into the Intel Ultra Core i9 185H CPU is “Intel AI boost.” Otherwise, there’s precious little info available about its capabilities except for the frameworks it support. For the record, those are Intel’s own Open VINO, WindowsML, DirectML and OMNX RT.

I had to turn to Copilot to get more information about the 185H NPU. Here’s what it told me:

Intel’s Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” offers an AI Boost NPU with 10 TOPS

Since I’ve learned to verify whatever Copilot tells me, I found this stat verified at Tom’s Hardware in an April 9 story. When I asked Copilot directly “What’s the TOPS rating for the AI Boost NPU in the Intel i9 185H?” it came back with a higher number that I couldn’t verify. Here’s what it said:

The Intel Core Ultra 9 185H processor features an AI Boost NPU that can perform approximately 34 trillion operations per second, which translates to 34 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second)12.

The second source it cites may explain this apparent discrepancy, though: the 10 TOPS is what the NPU itself contributes. But Arc and NVIDIA GPUs can also support the same AI frameworks mentioned above, and can thus add to a unit’s overall TOPS rating.

Put this into more Copilot context that asks if it itself can use NPU resources:

Microsoft Copilot is now set to run locally on AI PCs with at least 40 TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) of NPU (Neural Processing Unit) performance.

Given that the Yoga 9(i) comes close to that number, I’m still wondering if it qualifies or not. So far, I can’t find any details that lead me definitively to an unequivocal “Yes” or “No.” Sigh.

The Next Generation Gets It, For Sure?

Another Tom’s story, also dated April 9, says the next “Lunar Lake” generation will include an NPU rated at 45 TOPS. Further it also asserts that PCs with such chips will offer 100+ TOPS overall when they become available. AMD likewise says it will play in that same ballpark, as will the Snapdragon X Elite chips.

I’m still unsure as to whether or not my current review unit — that is, the Lenovo Yoga 9(i) has enough AI oomph to run Copilot workloads locally. I’ll keep banging away at this, though. Eventually, I’ll figure it out. At this point, I’m still at the start of the learning curve…

Rereading Tom’s Hardware I See This…

The Tom’s Copilot Locally story relies mostly on quotes from Intel to set things up — namely, from Todd Lewellen, VP of Intel Client Computing Group. He says:

“[..]And as we go to that next gen, it’s just going to enable us to run more things locally, just like they will run Copilot with more elements of Copilot running locally on the client. That may not mean that everything in Copilot is running local, but you’ll get a lot of key capabilities that will show up running on the NPU.”

This seems pretty clear that the current generation — including the Core Ultra i9 185H in the Lenovo Pro 9i  — does NOT fall under this umbrella. That said, I think it leaves open whether or not it will make any difference for other AI workloads. Should be interesting to get to the bottom of this!


Windows 10 Copilot Remains Elusive

There’s a new KB in circulation that claims to extend the reach of Copilot in Windows 10. That would be KB5033372, released December 12. But alas: on the lone eligible  physical PC and various Windows VMs here at Chez Tittel, Windows 10 Copilot remains elusive. It runs fine inside Edge, but will not show up as a Taskbar or Start menu item on any of their desktops. Sigh.

Why Windows 10 Copilot Remains Elusive

A quick visit to the KB announcement (link in preceding paragraph) gives me an excellent idea why my PC isn’t getting Copilot. Because some multi-monitor set-ups are subject to “mysterious icon migration” across or among desktops, MS has blocked it for such configs. Here’s what they say:

To prevent users from encountering this issue, Copilot in Windows (in preview) might not be available on devices that have been used or are currently being used in a multimonitor configuration.

And wouildn’t you know it: my Windows 10 PC runs with dual Dell UltraSharp 2717 monitors. That definitely accounts for my physical PC’s lack of Copilot. But I’m not so sure about the VMs. It may stem from my typical mode of access to them (using one of the two just-mentioned monitors) or it may be something else.

A Ray of Hope?

In the same KB announcement already cited MS also says that they’re “working on a solution and will provide an update in an upcoming release.” Here’s hoping that release is upcoming sooner rather than later!

And once again, I’m a Johnny-come-lately among all those already in the vanguard. But hey: that exactly the way that things go here in Windows-World. Once more with feeling, I guess!!


Windows 10 Copilot Limitations

Dang! I’d have to call my desktop experience “a swing and a miss.” I jumped on the KB5023378 Preview update, expecting to get Copilot out of that amendment. Wrong! Among the first words in the afore-linked update Support note, key Windows 10 Copilot limitations emerge. This includes this scoping statment: “This [Copilot addition] only applies to devices that run Home or Pro editions…” (emphasis mine). As you can see from the lead-in graphic for reasons that are too long and tedious to explain, this PC is running Windows 10 Enterprise. Sigh.

Bitten By Windows 10 Copilot Limitations

Sigh. It just goes to show that my personal dark cloud hasn’t quit hovering in the vicinity. I’ve often observed that if MS slides an update out as a gradual release, my PCs are invariably in the rear guard. This is something of a spin on this all-too-familiar situation, but nontheless an amusing one.

Fortunately, my physical desktop is not the only Windows 10 image I can run. I just jumped over to the ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation where I have a couple of Win10 images from which to choose. My cleanest one (installed last week for an AskWoody column) is installing same right now. When it reboots, I expect to see a Copilot icon in the Taskbar. Here goes…

Overall, install time on a 4GB Gen2 VM was quick. The whole thing took under 3 minutes to download, install, then cycle through post-reboot update processing. Good stuff. But did I see Copilot on the Taskbar when it was all done? Nope.

I had to turn on and relaunch the VM to come back from the update reboot. And another reboot didn’t bring it up, either. Nor did a right-click in the Taskbar show a Copilot control. No Copilot item under Settings → Personalization, either. Very interesting. I’m obviously going to have to learn more to get Copilot working on my Windows 10 Pro VMs. Should be fun: stay tuned!

That Old Familiar Sensation

I see in the Windows Latest coverage (Mayank Pamar) that “Microsoft has also warned that the feature may not be available on devices with compatibility issues, including devices with an incompatible app.” Why do I get the feeling that includes either my ThinkPad P16 Mobile Workstation or its Hyper-V runtime environment for my 2 Windows 10 VMs on that machine?

Note Added December 6: Maybe I should be grateful none of my Win10 PCs got Copilot? I’m seeing numerous reports that MS has put updates for both 10 and 11 on hold because of Copilot issues. I guess waiting is better than troubleshooting problems of Microsoft’s making. Isn’t that just the way things go here in Windows-World?


Learning to Hurdle Terminal Chat Gotchas

When I was a kid we lived in Kendall Park, NJ in 1962 and 1963. The barbershop where my Mom took me for haircuts was interesting. It was long and narrow and lined with mirrors on both sides. That created what I have forever since called “the hall of mirrors” effect. There a poor man’s infinity is born as those parallel mirrors reflect each other forever and ever. I remembered that hall as I read the MS November 17 Windows Command Line blog Terminal Chat in Windows Terminal Canary. Since it came out, I’ve been figuring out how to hurdle Terminal Chat gotchas in similar wise. Let me explain…

Pre-reqs Precede Hurdle Terminal Chat Gotchas

If you look at the lead-in graphic (it comes from the afore-linked Command Line blog, a personal fave) it shows a “Welcome to Terminal Chat” message inside a PowerShell/Windows Terminal session. I’ve been trying to get to the point where I can bring that message up myself on a test or production PC, but I’ve yet to surmount the hurdles in my way. Let me enumerate them:

1. In Windows Terminal team lead Chris Nguyen’s words “Terminal Chat only supports Azure OpenAI Service for now.” That means one needs an Azure OpenAI Service endpoint and key.

2. To obtain said endpoint and key, one must create and deploy an Azure OpenAI service resource.

3. To create and deploy an Azure OpenAI service resource, one needs an Azure OPen AI Service enabled Azure account. This requires setting up monthly billling for consumption of Azure resources with an OpenAI rider added. (For pricing info, start with Plan to manage costs for Azure OpenAI Service for the OpenAI piece, then check out Understand Cost Management Data for the underlying Azure piece). It’s daunting!

Only when you have all the pieces in place, and then create and deploy a valid Azure OpenAI service resource, can you install and use Terminal Chat. I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m thinking hard whether or not minimum monthly charges of at least US$50-150 are commensurate with the joy of using Terminal Chat.

Enough … or Too Much?

This subtitle comes courtesy of William Blake’s Proverbs of Heaven and Hell. I’m inclined to bow more to the infernal side of that dichotomy when it comes to putting all the pieces in place. All I wanted to do, really, was to see what kind of advice Terminal Chat could dispense at the command line. I’ve already got Copilot ready to advise me on PowerShell and Command Prompt input with some basic ability to plop it onto a command line.

Why so many hoops and hurdles? I’m sure there’s an answer. I’m reaching out to the author of the blog post to see what I can learn. Should be interesting… Stay tuned!


Windows 10 Copilot Is Coming

OK, then. Rumors have been swirling for weeks, but MS made things official on November 16. To see that, please check the “firstPublishedDate” field in this MS Support note: How we are maximizing value in Windows 10. It also tells us that Windows 10 Copilot is coming, initially in the Release Preview channel for Insiders.

What Windows 10 Copilot Is Coming Really Means

MS puts things this way in the afore-linked Support note:

We are hearing great feedback on Copilot in Windows (in preview) and we want to extend that value to more people. For this reason, we are revisiting our approach to Windows 10 and will be making additional investments to make sure everyone can get the maximum value from their Windows PC including Copilot in Windows (in preview).  We are also adding the “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” toggle to Windows 10.

Aside from seeking a larger audience (there are 1.0-1.1 B Windows 10 monthly active users, versus around 400 million such users for Windows 11), what else does this change do for Microsoft? Good question! It certainly confirms their commitment to integrating AI into the desktop and its supporting apps and platforms on as many levels as possible.

What Else Does Windows 10 Copilot Tell Us?

Methinks it says MS has learned from history, and does not necessarily expect the world to turn on a dime when Windows 10 EOL comes in October 2025. Taking Windows7 as a case in point, that tide didn’t really turn until 2-3 years after its EOL came along. And in the interim, a lot of customers (especially the US DoD and other government agencies) paid big for “extended support” to keep Windows 7 alive and secure while the migration got underway.

Could it be that MS wants to make the productivity advantages of Copilot available to its largest user base? Definitely. Could they recognize that it is likely to stay in the lead position until 2027. Absolutely. Could this move lower the impetus to migrate, or does it simply acknowledge the most likely outcome in the marketplace? You tell me!


Using Copilot Based PowerShell

As an experiment, I’m using Copilot to generate PowerShell commands to complete specific tasks. It’s all centered around scripting to customize Windows Terminal to add fonts, applications, and settings for a specific configuration. Using Copilot based PowerShell isn’t just a “load and go” operation. I’m having to understand and alter code to make sure it runs on both Windows 10 and 11 PCs. So far, I can’t say it’s faster than hacking it out from scratch. But I can say “very educational.”

Using CoPilot Based PowerShell, Step by Step

I’m stepping through the PowerShell code that Copilot presents for handling my specified tasks line by line. In some cases, I’m simplifying by making more direct assignments to variables and manipulating them in the scripts. In other cases, I’m cleaning up minor syntax violations (quotes around string values where they’re not needed, and so forth). In still other instances, I’m figuring out how to complete commands “silently” (supressing user interaction).

But most of what I’m getting is pretty usable. As somebody who’s written plenty of “real code” (Java, JavaScript, Perl, Python and more) this is an interesting way to expand my PowerShell chops. If you’ve got some minor automation to handle — that’s how I’d characterize my current quest — you might find this helpful, too.

Fruits of This Labor…

I’m working on a story for TekkiGurus. I will probably finish up this week, but it takes two-three weeks to get through the editorial pipeline. Thus, you should see a story there from yours truly near month’s end (October 2023, that is). My working title is Creating and Sharing Windows Terminal Profiles Across PCs. Stay tuned, and I’ll plug a link in (and correct the wording, if need be) when it’s up.


Where Is AI Taking Windows 11?

There’s a fascinating story in WindowsLatest this morning. Entitled Microsoft’s AI could supercharge your Windows 11 desktop backgrounds, it describes fancy means for animating the desktop. The idea, apparently, is to create an illusion of depth and add visual interest to ordinary usage scenarios. Sounds cool and perhaps even compelling, but it has me asking: “Where is AI taking Windows 11?”

Answering: “Where is AI taking Windows 11?”

The afore-linked story mentions other, more significant (IMO) uses of AI as well, including Bing and Edge, Windows 11 (e.g. CoPilot), Azure and more. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that desktop backgrounds warrant mention in that same league. Indeed, I’d like to suggest some other and perhaps more helpful ways to use AI in Windows 11 that could really help power and professional IT users on that platform:

  • An AI-based tie-in betweeen Power Automate and PowerShell, or an AI-based PowerShell assistant. I envision something like an over-the-shoulder agent observing patterns of use, and suggesting faster and better ways to do the same things, or providing canned scripts or packages that take over such jobs over time.
  • A series of AI-based system monitors for Windows 11 “behavioral areas” such as security, performance, disk structure, OS image management and optimization, and OS and application update handling. The first topic above could be of great benefit to all these things.
  • Components of the Microsoft 365 environment, including OS, VMs, Office components (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) are already undergoing “AI enrichment.” Improving ease of automation via macros and scripts, especially for repetitive tasks, would be fabulous.

Deciding Where AI Comes Into Play

As the technology becomes more familiar and its uses better understood, I’m sure we’ll see more and better ways to put AI to work at all levels of computing and user interaction. Personally, I’m in favor of AI-assisted user empowerment across the board — that is, from boosting what everday or casual end users can do (and get done) all the way up to those who work in data centers and other tech-heavy environments where the cloud and its supporting infrastructure come from, and sophisticated, distributed applications and services reside and operate.

Who knows where this will take us in a decade or more? Indeed, it’s sure to go further from today’s vision of computing than we can probably imagine. Waaaaaaaaaay beyond desktop backgrounds, to be sure…