Microsoft, along with other tech companies, are insistent we never have human interaction. Chatbots have become a burgeoning part of the tech landscape. Why type to an actual human when you can talk to a bot?

Haven’t we been doing that with online customer service the entire time? The canned responses were already automated. Jokes aside, Skype’s new capabilities for its bots are the biggest since the company announced the Microsoft Bot Framework. The messenger will see its framework merged inside the overarching Microsoft tent.

The headline feature is Skype bots can be integrated into group chats and respond to messages from multiple users in a single chatroom. In addition to group chats, the system will allow chatbots to use cards in order to share images, receipts, images with buttons and carousels.

Microsoft used a hotel reservation system as an example. Ask the bot what rooms are available and you can ‘chat’ through room options, add-ons and finally a reservation. We now wait for the news story of a four-year-old booking an entire floor at a five-star resort.

Skype Chatbots

Skype Chatbots and Bing

The latest integration can be used for third-party authentication for other services. Take Bing. New bots will be able to detect entities and intent, “so that natural language understanding is built right into Skype Bots — an industry first,” Lilian Rincon, Skype’s group program manager, wrote in a blog post.

Merging the Skype Bot Platform with Microsoft lends developers a larger platform. “Using the Microsoft Bot Framework you can publish your bot to Skype, and submit for promotion in the Skype and Microsoft bot directories, as well as get access to great bot building tools.”

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Expect the number of bots to increase. Consider it the new app store. When Microsoft announced its framework in March, 20,000 developers signed up in the first month. That number is now north of 30,000 and allows development of bots for Skype, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Kik, SMS and Telegram.

In the bot directory, Microsoft heavily features its products, including Summarize and MurphyBot. Check out the directory and developers can sign up for access to the framework.

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