Microsoft launched officially its latest chat bot, Zo.ai, along with a new external AI web site with information on its various AI-related projects.
Microsoft officials talked up the company's momentum across its various AI projects and initiatives at its AI day in San Francisco on December 13.
A week ago, word leaked that Microsoft was providing early access to users on Kik to Zo. Zo is a successor to Microsoft's ill-fated Tay.ai chatbot, which the company revoked shortly after its launch earlier this year after users got it to spew racist, hate-filled comments. Users last week found Zo to be a lot more limited and locked down than Tay, which is unsurprising given how quickly Tay spiraled out of control.
Microsoft officials said today there are already 115,000 Zo.ai users, just a week after its unofficial soft launch.
In September this year, Microsoft created a combined AI and research group of about 5,000 people under the direction of Executive Vice President Harry Shum. Today, Microsoft took the wraps off a AI-focused news site meant to bring together into a single place the latest links, resources and updates on the company's various AI-related products and services.
Microsoft has been stepping up its work across the company in 2016 on a number of AI-related fronts, including conversational computing/bots, digital assistants, cognitive services and expanded intelligence and presence with Cortana.
Today at its AI Day in San Francisco, Microsoft demonstrated a bot designed to work with its Microsoft Teams Slack competitor. That bot, known as the WhoBot, is designed to know who someone is based on the documents they write and the conversations they have. Microsoft officials said today that Skype can now deliver talking bots with the general availability of the Skype calling API.
Microsoft also is making available a new Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana Devices software development kit (SDK) meant to bring more developers into the Microsoft bot and assistant fold. The Cortana Skills Kit will allow developers to take advantage of bots created with the Microsoft Bot Framework and publish them to Cortana as a new skill or repurpose code from an Alexa skill to create a Cortana skill.