Microsoft kills Win + C shortcut to promote dedicated Copilot key, drive PC sales

Copilot is one of the most important applications powering Microsoft‘s new vision for Windows 11. However, in an attempt to get more people on board with Copilot and Microsoft’s new Copilot+ PCs, Windows is stripping away the current “Win + C” hotkey that opens the Copilot sidebar app right now on Windows 11 23H2 and 24H2. Patch notes for Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22635.3785 reveal that the Win + C keyboard shortcut has been removed from this build of Windows, confirming that this change will be making its way to Windows 11 as a whole later this year.

Of course, Microsoft is spinning this change as a positive, saying it is part of the “Copilot experience’s evolution on Windows to become an app that is pinned to the taskbar…”. But in reality, this is an attempt to get more people to buy Copilot+ PC because it comes with the Copilot key on its keyboard. 

There is absolutely no reason for Microsoft to remove the Win + C hotkey. This specific key combination is not being replaced by another utility that might be able to take advantage of the same keys. Microsoft says it is retiring this hotkey only because the Copilot sidebar is being retired in favor of a dedicated app that can be resized and manipulated just like any other application. But we already have hotkeys that open Microsoft-specific applications in Windows 11, so there’s no physical limitation for Microsoft to have dedicated hotkeys to open specific applications. A perfect example is the Win + E key, which opens File Explorer.

However, it’s not like you can’t launch Copilot without a hotkey. It has an icon right on the taskbar. 

The good news is that (if you are desperate to bring the hotkey back) there is a way to override Microsoft’s hotkey change. We discovered that the Copilot key on Copilot+ compatible PCs actually returns a real key combination when pressed, “Left Shift + Windows key + F23” (yes, that is an actual F23 key callback, which was a key that existed on IBM keyboards in the 1980s). 

All you have to do is take your favorite hotkey software, AutoHotey for example, and ramp one of your keys into the key combination above, and you’ll have a Copilot hotkey once again. You can even remap Windows + C to become Windows + Shift + F23.

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