Months of speculations were finally put to rest when Microsoft launched its AI-focused devices, Copilot+ PCs. The company calls these products the “fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built.”

The keynote event introduced game-changing AI and machine learning capabilities designed to run on the Snapdragon X processors. But the spotlight shone the heaviest on Recall, the new Microsoft AI feature designed to capture everything users see and do on their Copilot+ PCs.

The feature drew the ire of the tech community, and security researchers have called out Microsoft for misleading users. The software giant has taken some steps back to quell concerns, but it might be a little too late.

I’ll unpack everything about Recall, why it’s been such a publicity mess for the upcoming PCs, how the company has reacted, and what you should expect.

Microsoft is not deploying Recall to non-Copilot+ PCs (at least not yet), so you don’t have to panic if you’re one of the people against the feature. That said, it will be wise to learn everything you can about it if you’re considering buying the new set of ARM-powered computers because of their many other advantages.

Copilot Plus PC: What Do We Know?

Copilot+ PC (pronounced Copilot Plus PC) is Microsoft’s latest crest for new computers powered by ARM-based chips with bleeding-edge AI capabilities. It represents Microsoft’s bold move to open Windows’ next chapter with artificial intelligence and machine learning, reshape the user experience, and revive Windows on Arm.

More from Auslogics: Timeline of All Windows OS Versions: From Start to Now

Computers must meet the following incremental hardware requirements on top Windows 11’s minimum specifications to earn the Copilot+ PC badge:

  • CPU: Processors or SoCs (System on chips) with neural processing units (NPUs) capable of at least 40 TOPS (trillion operations per second).
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR5/LPDDR5
  • Storage: 256 UFS (ultra-fast storage) or SSD (Solid-state drive)

If you’re wondering whether Copilot+ PC desktops exist, they do not—at least not yet. NPUs, which are a strict requirement, do not exist on desktop computers for now, and Microsoft is not budging. However, the company did admit working with Intel and AMD to bring some of the new AI features across board on Windows 11.

Laptops in the Copilot+ PC family still belong to a relatively exclusive class, as not many computers currently meet Microsoft’s requirements. Major manufacturers, such as Lenovo, HP, Dell, ASUS, Samsung, Acer, and Microsoft, don’t have more than 3 devices (each) lined up.

New features on Copilot+ PCs

One of the prominent highlights of this new introduction is on-device generative AI. It means artificial intelligence and machine learning processing will run locally, on the computer, instead of the cloud, like emerging AI products typically do. 

It’s the main reason Microsoft insists on the new type of silicon with a blistering fast dedicated NPU for AI functions. That way, your CPU and GPU can focus on their primary commuting and graphics tasks.

The following are new capabilities that will run on Copilot+ PCs:

Since this article will focus on the Windows AI Recall feature, let’s first cover other features that make Copilot+ PCs great to have. That way, you can properly weigh your pros and cons without letting Recall make the decision for you.

The current Microsoft Copilot (Preview) app in Windows 11 is hard to miss. It’s prominently docked in the far-right corner of the taskbar, and it already boasts features that Microsoft will expand on in the upcoming release.

Windows Copilot
You can read more about the app in our explainer for the Microsoft Copilot AI program.

The new Copilot AI application will be more capable and free from the corner of your screen. Microsoft promises that it will come with the advanced capabilities of OpenAI’s impressive GPT-4o. So, users should expect to share more natural voice conversations.

Copilot AI
Source: Microsoft

Microsoft also demoed a gaming experience where Copilot can help narrate game environments and even point out things a player might miss.

Live captions

Live captions will now translate up to 44 languages from any audio that goes through your PC’s sound card, during audio and video calls, and even multimedia playback. It can primarily transcribe oral audio output and display them on your screen in English, like movie subtitles, when turned on, whether the user is speaking English or any other supported language.

But we already enjoy Windows 11’s current version of Live Captions, and it’s pretty capable, which makes the new one a confusing sell. It does all the audio-to-text processing locally and transcribes every audio from your PC, including calls and media.
However, the Copilot+ version will be even more capable as it offloads the transcription process to the dedicated NPU instead of the CPU. It also translates other languages to English in real time, which is not available in the current Windows 11 version.

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Cocreator is a new Paint feature that will allow Copilot+ PC owners generate images and art and refine them within the application. That said, it doesn’t create images from start to finish like you do in regular AI image generators and the dedicated Copilot app. It applies what you type to the art you have in Paint, like a literal AI Copilot.

Clicking Paint’s Cocreator icon pushes out a side panel with sliders and a text field. After entering your prompt, it applies your input to your current drawing in paint. You can then use the slider and other controls to refine the generated art.

Windows Studio Effects

Windows Studio Effects applies special effects to front-facing cameras and built-in microphones using AI to enrich the video call experience. It deploys features such as background blur, creative filters, eye contact, voice focus, auto framing, eye contact teleprompter, and portrait light.

As mentioned, the feature does all its AI processing locally and leverages the power of the NPU on Copilot+ PCs. You can easily activate it in Quick Settings and choose the effects and features you want to turn on.

The Recall AI Function

As mentioned, Recall is designed to take a snapshot of your Copilot+ PC every time you do something new. You can then retrieve any saved information in seconds. Microsoft’s CEO calls it your computer’s photographic memory.

It runs locally on AI models, leveraging the powerful NPUs included in Copilot+ PCs.

Recall can be seen as a pretty helpful feature since it shows you things you may have forgotten.

For example, if you viewed a new company’s flagship handheld gaming device two weeks ago, it’s easy to forget its name and start digging through your browsing history when you want to finally make the order. With Recall, typing “handheld” will show you everything you need in seconds.

You’ll also have access to a timeline where you can explore things you’ve done and seen in the past.

What can Recall record?

Everything, except the following:

  • Private browsing sessions in most Chromium-based web browsers, such as Opera, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.
  • Applications and websites you add to Recall’s filter lists.
  • Content protected by digital rights management (DRM).

Why is it controversial?

Recall’s tempting advantages were not enough to gloss over the glaring privacy concerns that Microsoft apparently completely overlooked. Apart from the unease of feeling monitored every time, there were many other poison pills and security pitfalls that turned many users off.

Taking Microsoft at its word

Most people, like myself, don’t trust Microsoft well enough to believe Recall’s data will be stored locally without Microsoft access, since they already scrap a lot of user data from Windows. 

Its initial explanations about the feature’’s security and privacy also felt misleading, considering concerns raised by security experts.

Microsoft initially turned the feature on by default, allowing users to only opt out after setup. According to people like Tom Warren of The Verge, who tested pre-released versions of the feature, you could only tick the checkbox for “Open Settings after setup completes so I can manage my Recall preferences” when setting up the Copilot+ PC.

This action only pushed users further to the edge. 

Security and privacy concerns

Other concerns raised by security researchers include the following:

Kevin Beaumont and Alexander Hagenah have demonstrated that hackers can easily extract saved Microsoft Recall data.

Copilot security concerns
Source: LinkedIn

Saved Recall data is apparently not as encrypted as Microsoft initially claimed.

When you’re logged into a PC and run software, things are decrypted for you. Encryption at rest only helps if somebody comes to your house and physically steals your laptop—that isn’t what criminal hackers do.
Kevin Beaumont
  • Other users on the same computer can access the data, contrary to Microsoft’s claims.
  • Marc-André Moreau showed that Recall saves a plain text database file to the Users folder that hackers can easily access. The database file contains everything the user has seen and done.
security concerns with Copilot
Source: X
  • Recall can record sensitive information, including passwords (if they are visible) and financial information.
Note that Recall does not perform content moderation. It will not hide information such as passwords or financial account numbers. That data may be in snapshots that are stored on your device, especially when sites do not follow standard internet protocols like cloaking password entry.
  • Deleting stuff like messages and emails does not automatically remove them from Recall.

How did Microsoft react?

Microsoft has always maintained the following about Recall, even before the wave of backlash:

  • Users can customize how Recall works by clicking its icon (couched in the system tray) and entering its settings.
  • The icon also allows you to pause the feature whenever you choose.
  • You can prevent Recall from recording specific websites (in supported browsers, such as Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge) and applications. 
There’s a concern here for people who don’t use the supported browsers.
  • You can clear or delete snapshots whenever you choose.

Still, the public outcry led Microsoft to tighten security further and retrace its steps. The company released a statement suggesting it would make the following changes:

  • Include an option in the setup process to allow users to turn the feature on or off.
  • Windows Hello requirement to enable Recall.
  • Proof of presence to access Recall snapshots.
  • Encryption for the search database.
  • Layers of extra encryption.

But that’s not all. The company also announced that Recall would no longer ship with the brand-new Copilot+ PCs, slated to launch on June 18. Instead, the feature will be deployed to its Windows Insider Program users for further testing and feedback. 

“Recall will now shift from a preview experience broadly available for Copilot+ PCs on June 18, 2024, to a preview available first in the Windows Insider Program (WIP) in the coming weeks,” said Pavan Davuluri, Corporate Vice President, Windows + Devices, in a now-updated blog post

The plan is to “leverage the expertise of the Windows Insider community” to ensure the feature meets acceptable security standards.

Once Recall finally makes it to Copilot+ PCs after WIP, subsequent productions will ship with the feature out of the box.

Can You Turn Off Microsoft Recall?

Absolutely. These steps will show you how to disable the Recall AI feature:

  1. Click the Recall icon in the system tray. 
  2. Go to the bottom of the Recall window and select More Recall & snapshots settings.
  3. Once the Settings window opens, turn off the switch next to Save snapshots.

You can also open the Settings app, click Privacy & security in the left pane, and select Recall & snapshots to open the same page.

You can also take your time to select apps and websites that should not be recorded if you believe the feature is helpful in moderation. Here’s how:

  1. Launch Settings, click Privacy & security, and select Recall & snapshots.
  2. Go to the Filter lists section.
  3. To add an app to the filter list, click the Add app button next to Apps to filter.

To add a website, select Add website on the right side of Websites to filter.

Recall and snapshots
Source: Microsoft
As mentioned earlier, Recall only filters out websites in supported web browsers. However, you can prevent the Microsoft Recall AI feature from recording every activity on any browser by adding that browser to the apps filter list.

How to delete Recall snapshots

Another option to maintain your privacy while the feature is turned on is deleting recorded snapshots. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Recall icon and select More Recall & snapshot settings.
  2. Expand the Delete snapshots section and click Delete snapshots.
  3. Now, you can choose to delete Recall data collected during a specific time period. Expand the Delete snapshots from a specific timeframe drop-down, select a timeframe, and click Delete snapshots.
  4. Click Delete all to wipe your entire Recall data.

Are the new measures enough?

The jury is still out, and security researchers still maintain that the plain text database can be accessed by hackers, even remotely. For example, malware designed to scrap local files and collect information can be retooled to specifically exfiltrate Microsoft Recall AI files.

What’s Next for Microsoft Copilot Plus PC Users?

The ability to turn off the feature, delete data, and filter applications and websites should calm users a bit. Since they can now turn it off during setup, they can deactivate Recall and focus on enjoying other benefits of their Copilot+ PCs until they feel safe enough to use the search database.

Users should also look forward to massive improvements through updates. Microsoft will most likely ship security upgrades and new features through Windows updates.

The company has already made massive changes during the time of writing, and I’ll continue to add updates as they come. So you should look forward to more news regarding the now-hot-button feature.

There are still speculations suggesting the new generation of PCs is laying the groundwork for Windows 12’s introduction.

Let us know what you think about Copilot+ PCs in the comments section below. Will you use the feature, limit it, or permanently turn it off?


What kind of data does the Recall AI feature collect?
It collects everything by default, unless you restrict it. However, Microsoft claims it won’t access private browsing activity from Chromium-based browsers, including Chrome, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. It is also restricted from collecting digital rights management (DRM) content, just like Snipping Tool.
Where is the data collected by Recall AI stored?
According to security researchers, Recall creates a database file in the AppData folder under the Users folder. That said, this may change in the future if Microsoft beefs up security.
How safe is the data stored by the Recall AI feature?
Experts continue to maintain that there are too many gaps in Microsoft’s claims about encryption and multiple user access. However, users still have some level of control to turn off the feature, restrict it, and delete its data.
What advantages come with using the Recall AI function on a Copilot+ PC?
It helps you find and access anything you’ve looked at or worked on in the immediate past. It eliminates the process of searching through File Explorer or browsing history for vaguely remembered things.