Cortana, Microsoft

Microsoft is moving towards further opening up the Cortana ecosystem to developers. The company has announced the launch of the Cortana Skills Kit in public preview, today at the Build 2017 event. The launch will allow a greater number of developers to jump on-board and start creating skills that will make liberal use of web applications and other related services in creating their own skills for the Cortana Artificial assistant.

Developers will also be able to bring bots into the question.  If you are a developer and have been working on something using Microsoft’s Bot Framework, you will be able to deploy your pre-existing bot as a new skill. Devs who have created skills for Alexa, will find that they are able to adapt to Microsoft’s ecosystem quickly by simply re-purposing their code.

Developers will also be able to connect users to skills when they ask, and even pro-actively present skills to users in the appropriate situation. What’s more, developers will also be able to personalize their users’ experiences by leveraging Cortana’s own understanding of users’ preferences and context. This understanding willl of course vary, and be dependent upon user permissions.

The service is currently limited to the US however, if you are a developer, you can start publishing your skill on the Cortana channel on Microsoft’s Bot Framework. These skills are currently available Windows 10, Android, iOS and the Harman Kardon’s new Cortana-powered Invoke speaker.

Meanwhile, the move should allow greater movement within Microsoft’s Cortana ecosystem. The artificial assistant market is relatively new and there is a lot of competition here, what with Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all vying to grab the largest market share. Amazon’s Echo devices may have enabled it to acquire an edge over competition and gotten more developers on-board however, Microsoft’s latest moves — including the one which allows developers to port their skills — could well see the equations change.

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