Microsoft reports progress toward its vision of Conversation as a Platform

Mark Coppock

Among Microsoft’s many “cloud-first, mobile-first” productivity initiatives is its goal of developing a new class of solutions, Conversation as a Platform. As CEO Satya Nadella outlined at Build 2016, the company envisions a day when natural language and machine intelligence will combine to enhance productivity and allow its customers to “get more done and have more fun.”

Today, Microsoft provided a brief update on its progress in implementing its CaaP vision over at the Official Microsoft Blog. It’s no surprise that the company thinks it’s doing pretty well:

Intelligent conversations, such as those in Skype chat, will be where you discover information and get things done. We want bots to become the quickest way to handle simple tasks, like shopping or managing your calendar, and the most effortless way to complete complex tasks, such as booking a family vacation. And the more you use bots, the better they get at anticipating your needs.

Today, we’re taking another significant step towards bringing that vision into reality. Our hundreds of millions of Skype users will now have access to a series of new bots created by Microsoft and our partners. This new wave of bots focuses on travel and entertainment, and are available across each Skype client whether Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or the web.

We covered these new Skype cbatbots earlier today, and they’re a real mix of the silly Spock bot and the very useful IFTTT bot. According to Microsoft, we should see many more bots make their way to various platforms, as over 30,000 developers are using the Microsoft Bot Framework to create bots for Skype, Office 365, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and more. And Microsoft isn’t stopping there:

In June, we acquired Wand Labs to accelerate our efforts in conversational intelligence and hosted our very first Skype Bot Hackathon in our Palo Alto office where participants worked to create bots that did everything from helping you choose dinner, finding the perfect song to fit your mood, and even buying the right health insurance. In less than two days, dozens of bots were developed.

In July, we announced three key updates to the bot framework tools, including group functionality for bots, to make your chats even more helpful. And we just wrapped up our first ever BotHack Hackathon as part of our OneWeek company event where 145 teams internally participated in developing bots. It’s impressive to see what is becoming a healthy ecosystem form in such a short timeframe and we couldn’t be more excited at the initial response to the potential of the Microsoft Bot Framework.

Microsoft’s investments in the cloud and in machine intelligence, including Cortana, will continue to help the company maintain relevance in an environment where the company’s previous cash cow, Windows, are no longer the reliable revenue source it once was. Let us know in the comments how you think Microsoft is doing in achieving its CaaP vision and succeeding as a cloud services company in general.