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Businesses and developers will be able to make bots for the newly announced Microsoft Teams using the Microsoft Bot Framework, the company announced today in an event held in New York.
Built into Office 365, Microsoft Teams is an immediate competitor with enterprise chat apps like Slack, HipChat, and Cisco Spark.
“We’re supporting the Microsoft Bot Framework to bring intelligent first and third party services into your team’s environment,” according to Microsoft Office corporate vice president Kirk Koenigsbauer.
This means that several bots should be available on Microsoft Teams soon, since 45,000 developers have already used the framework to create bots.
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Microsoft Teams will also feature bots made by Microsoft. The company is currently working to create its own enterprise bots, a Microsoft engineer told VentureBeat.
In addition to bots made by Microsoft, businesses, and developers, an intelligent assistant named T-Bot will answer questions and help guide Microsoft Teams users.
Instructions for how to make a bot or integrate or bot or app are in the Microsoft Teams Develop Preview.
Launched in April, the framework can create bots for more than half a dozen chat apps including Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Kik. A month before the announcement of Microsoft Teams, the Microsoft Bot Framework integrated with the Howdy botkit, the de facto bot creation kit for Slack bots so people can quickly convert Slack bots to Microsoft bots and vise versa.
The services of startup Message.io, whose bot converter launched in private beta today, can also be used to make Slack bots intto Microsoft Teams bots.
The first bot referenced in the debut of Microsoft Teams today was Polly, and that’s probably not an accident. The polling bot Polly is the most popular bot in the Slack App Store and was created by former Microsoft engineers Samir Diwan and Bilal Aijazi.
The Polly team provided feedback on the platform in months prior to launch, Diwan told VentureBeat today. Other early partners for Microsoft Teams launch include Zendesk, Asana, Hootsuite, and Workato, Microsoft said in a post today.
Polly on Slack and Polly on Microsoft Teams are different because bots in Microsoft Teams can operate both in group chat channels and dedicated tabs.
“The tab allows you to create an experience within the application,” Diwan said. “Pro of Slack: There’s more interaction since we can dynamically change the state of the message (and let users control that dynamic). Pro of Teams: It shows you all the relevant info in one place so we can essentially create “dashboards” within these tabs.”
Some bots made with the Microsoft Bot Framework can be found in the Microsoft Bot Directory. The Microsoft Bot Directory currently features roughly 50 bots, a mix of select startups, corporate partners, and bots made by Microsoft engineers, but there are no enterprise bots.
In a recent interview, creators of the Microsoft Bot Framework expressed an interest in an expanded bot directory and the creation of a single bot search engine that draws in bots made for the most popular platforms to improve bot discovery and support the burgeoning bot industry.
Updated 11:55 a.m. Nov. 2 to include additional context on how bots will operate on Microsoft Teams and comment by Polly cofounder Samir Diwan.
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