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The lines didn't snake along the parking lots like game system drops on a Black Friday, but make no mistake. This week's launch of Copilot+ PCs, Microsoft's new AI-powered laptops, signified the beginning of a potential electronics renaissance for Best Buy.

The Richfield-based electronics chain has the widest assortment of the new Microsoft laptops in the country and saw its stock hit a 52-week high on Tuesday, the day the Copilot+ PCs dropped. There are high hopes the technology could be the right shot in the arm for Best Buy, which has struggled to reverse sales declines for the past two years.

"It can do everything from take a stick figure and make it into a beautiful drawing, all the way to some of the productivity tools we're all getting used to — write your emails, write your thank you, write your polite decline," said CEO Corie Barry at Oppenheimer's annual virtual conference last week. "All of those things will just become more ubiquitous. And this is the sweet spot for us."

Best Buy, like many retailers, has seen sales drop from pandemic highs when people were hungry to stock their homes with stuff. A lack of truly significant upgrades to phones and gaming systems in the past few years hasn't helped.

In a note to investors this week, Michael Lasser, a Minneapolis-based retail analyst for UBS Global Research, called Best Buy shares "fully charged" for a rally due to a multitude of factors including the Copilot+ PCs. Not only do the new laptops have AI functions, but their battery life and processing speed appear ahead of comparable models, Lasser said.

Global tech market analysis firm Canalys predicts that by 2025 AI-capable computers will be mainstream and in 2026 more than 50% of all PCs shipped around the world will be AI-enhanced.

"It should be evident that [Best Buy's] market share tends to flourish at the earlier stages of a product cycle," Lasser wrote.

Best Buy is "well-positioned" because it is one of only a few retailers that sells electronics "with a differentiated store experience."

A Copilot+ key is seen on a computer on display inside Best Buy in Minnetonka on Tuesday.
A Copilot+ key is seen on a computer on display inside Best Buy in Minnetonka on Tuesday.

Shari L. Gross

A big test for Copilot+ PCs and Best Buy will be to see if parents and students shopping at the end of the summer will upgrade to the AI devices for the new school year or wait for further developments.

When the Copilot+ PCs officially dropped in stores Tuesday, many people got their first chance to test out the first wave of "a new generation of computing" with AI features embedded directly into their hard drives.

The Microsoft laptops can summarize a web page or article with the click of a button and in seconds draw up a fantastical image of a corgi running along a beach. The new products' release marked the beginning of a new category of mainstream computers with built-in artificial intelligence technology.

Best Buy offers more than 40 models of Copilot+ PCs and is the exclusive retailer for about 40% of them. In preparation for the launch, Best Buy announced it recently trained more than 30,000 store employees and Geek Squad support experts on the computers' features. Starting Saturday, Geek Squad AI experts will perform demos and trainings in hundreds of stores.

On Tuesday, decorative cubes at the front of Best Buy's Minnetonka store let customers know that it was the start of "a new AI era." A new sleek and bright section of the store showcased the lineup of Copilot+ PCs and tablets.

"I'm definitely into trying [Copilot+ PCs] to see which one is best for my needs for school," said Jack Farinella, a 17-year-old rising senior at Mound Westonka High School. "I just like the efficiency. Since it is built-in AI, it can easily sum up articles and analyze those for me and break it down into a couple of paragraphs. ... I think that will definitely be useful."

Team member Ayman Mohamud demonstrates Copilot+ on a Windows machine inside Best Buy in Minnetonka on Tuesday.
Team member Ayman Mohamud demonstrates Copilot+ on a Windows machine inside Best Buy in Minnetonka on Tuesday.

Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune

Farinella, who has used popular online AI tool ChatGPT and Google's Gemini chatbot, created a digital image of a robot as he tried out a laptop's image creator function at the store Tuesday afternoon.

One of the Copilot+ PCs' biggest features is Cocreator, a Paint upgrade that enhances your drawings in real time. There is also a Studio Effects option that lets you blur, improve lighting and even animate yourself during video calls.

The Copilot+ PCs are in stores without a previously announced "Recall" feature that periodically takes screenshots, which had concerned some critics worried about security. Before the launch, Microsoft announced it would delay "Recall" from being "broadly available" outside a select group of Windows early adopters.