Microsoft Expands Skype Bot Client Support
Microsoft is continuing to issue consumer Skype bot client previews, adding new Mac and Web client support this week.
Client previews with Skype bot capabilities were available last month for Android, iOS and Windows Skype clients. Today, Microsoft announced new support for its Mac and Web Skype clients. The previews currently are restricted to certain regions. They can just be tested in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, India, Singapore and New Zealand.
Mac users can find bots using the "Contacts" interface. Skype for Web client users can get them from a "Discover Bots" option. The bots are just services that use artificial intelligence techniques to send responses to users, including chat-like responses.
Microsoft at this point appears to just be previewing the bots capability for consumer Skype users. Nothing was mentioned in the announcement about a bots capability for Skype for Business clients.
Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella offered a broad bots vision for developers at the company's Build event last month. He urged them to create "conversational computing" types of applications. These applications can tap Microsoft's APIs and use a new Microsoft Bot Framework. The framework uses Cognitive Services APIs and works with the Cortana Intelligence Suite, which is one of Microsoft's Azure cloud-based services based on the Bing search service.
Microsoft also is a maker of bots services. Its Murphy bot creates images in response to "what if"-type questions from users, for instance. Microsoft also built a Summarize bot that shows quick overviews of Web pages for users.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.