Microsoft today announced new capabilities for chatbots that work inside Skype that are built with Microsoft’s Bot Framework.
Most prominently, Skype chatbots can now now be part of group chats and respond to messages from multiple users in a single chat, potentially making interaction with the Skype bot framework much more like the group experience on Slack. Also, it’s now possible for chatbots to use cards in order to share images, images with buttons, receipts, and carousels.
And Skype can now be used for third-party authentication for other applications, and Microsoft also now has a preview of an integration of Bing services for detecting entities and intents, “so that natural language understanding is built right into Skype Bots — an industry first,” Skype group program manager Lilian Rincon wrote in a blog post.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has chosen to merge the Skype Bot Platform and the Microsoft Bot Framework. “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,” Rincon wrote.
These updates are some of the largest changes to Skype bots since the Microsoft Bot Framework was announced in March. The Microsoft Bot Framework allows developers to make bots for Skype, Kik, Slack, Office 365 mail, Facebook Messenger, SMS, and Telegram. The ability to create bots for Kik and Facebook Messenger was added after the framework was announced at Build, Microsoft’s annual developer conference.
The news comes a week after Facebook announced several feature updates for Messenger chatbots, including the ability for users to rate chatbots.
More than 20,000 developers signed up to use the Microsoft Bot Framework in its first month, and the numbers are now more than 30,000 overall, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
Microsoft currently features bots like MurphyBot, Summarize, and Kik’s Vision Bot in its Bot Directory. Skype offers bots like Ava Zoom, Hello Stranger 2, and Mitsuku.