Microsoft updates its bot platforms with new features, support for Facebook, Slack bot features

Microsoft is updating its Microsoft Bot and Skype Bot platforms with new capabilities, as well as additional support for Facebook and Slack bot features.

Microsoft has updated its Skype Bot developer platform with new groups and cards support.

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft originally announced the Skype Bot Platform in March at the company's Build developer conference. As of July 8, Microsoft officials said 30,000 developers are building building bots for its platforms.

As part of today's updates to the Skype Bot Platform, Microsoft added groups support so that bots can now be part of group conversations. Skype Bots now also can take advantage of visual image cards, carousel cards, and receipt cards. The team also is working on single sign-in directly on cards, resulting in users having to authorize their credentials one time only.

Skype is working with Bing to enable natural language understanding to be built directly into Skype Bots via Bing Entity and Intent detection. Microsoft's Bot Framework platform added support for Microsoft's Cognitive Services intent dialog in July.

(I'm not sure what, if anything, these new capabilities have to do with the Bing Concierge Bot that Microsoft seems to be building to go head-to-head with Google's Assistant Bot.)

Using the Microsoft Bot Framework, developers can publish their bots to Skype and submit them for promotion in the Skype and Microsoft bot directories, officials said in Friday's blog post.

Other updates this month to the Microsoft Bot Framework platform include support for Skype calling, Slack buttons, and various Facebook bot features.

Microsoft officials have made available previews of a number of single-purpose bots built using Microsoft's Bot Framework, which is currently available in preview form. Microsoft has begun populating its Bot Directory with a number of company-developed bots, like the Bing Image Bot, Caption Bot, Summarize Bot, and Bing Music Bot.

Currently, developers can build bots via the Microsoft Bot Framework that work in text/SMS, Office 365 mail, Skype, Slack, Kik, GroupMe, Telegram, and the web (using the embeddable chat control). Microsoft expects the Bot Framework to be generally available by the end of calendar 2016.