With Recall, Microsoft is using AI to fix Windows' eternally broken search

The company says it’s like having a photographic memory for everything you’ve done on your PC.


At its Build 2024 conference, Microsoft unveiled Rewind, a new feature that aims to make local Windows PC searches as quick and effective as web searches. Similar to third-party apps like Rewind, Microsoft’s Recall for Copilot+ PCs uses AI to retrieve virtually anything you’ve seen on your PC. Microsoft describes it like giving your PC a photographic memory.

At Monday’s event, Microsoft Product Manager Caroline Hernandez gave the example of searching for a blue dress on Pinterest using a Windows PC with Recall. Returning later, she can search the Recall timeline for “blue dress” (using her voice), which pulls all of her recent searches, saving her from having to sift through browser history. She further refined the query with more specific details like “blue pantsuit with sequined lace for Abuelita,” and Rewind brought up the relevant results.

It can also quickly find specific emails, documents or chat threads you’ve had on your PC. Microsoft says Recall uses semantic associations to make connections. For example, it connected the term “peacock” to blue hues in the dress search.

Other examples the company gave include using Recall to find a specific PowerPoint slide using her voice. Microsoft says it can start with exact information or vague contextual clues to find what you want. Another example in the demo was a marketing line from a Teams meeting that Hernandez couldn’t remember. By giving Recall contextual clues, it found it despite her not remembering the exact phrase.

Microsoft says Recall’s processing is all done locally and won’t be used to train future AI models, so your data should remain private, secure and offline. The company says over 40 local multi-modal small language models, which can recognize text, images, video and more are used to process Recall’s data.

Recall will be available exclusively on Copilot+ PCs after installing the latest Windows Updates on June 18.

Catch up on all the news from Microsoft's Copilot AI and Surface event today!