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The next generation of Skype has Cortana, and it can talk to other bots

By Ng Chong Seng - on 31 Mar 2016, 2:18am

The next generation of Skype has Cortana, and it can talk to other bots

At Build 2016, Microsoft has introduced a new platform/app model called Conversations as a Platform. In short, Microsoft is seeing human language as the new UI, bots as the new apps, and digital assistants as meta apps. And with intelligence infused into the bots, interactions can be productive as well as entertaining.

Confused? Here's an example. In the next generation of Skype (which Microsoft calls a conversation canvas), which is gaining new features like translated text in a video message, Cortana will be built in. You can have one-on-one conversations with the digital assistant, you know, like it's a real person; and it can do the usual Cortana stuff like scheduling your calendar appointments.

But more importantly, Cortana is also able to broker conversations with third-party bots. Yup, bots. For example, a shop could have its bot ask you for the delivery address for an order you placed, and Cortana could answer on your behalf after getting your permission. It could also do things like initiate a conversation with a hotel bot after it detects that you would be traveling.

Additionally, Microsoft is making Skype Video Bots, and bringing intelligence to virtual conversations through Skype for HoloLens. For the latter, imagine teaching a family member to fix a light remotely. Annotations can also be made.

Of course, all these mean that companies have to build their own bots, too. Microsoft is clearly confident that businesses will see this as an attractive way for them to interact with customers.

Bots launch today, with preview bots available in the latest versions of Skype for Windows desktop, Android, iPhone, and iPad. Developers can also start coding them now using the Skype Bots Platform.

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