Microsoft Bot Framework will soon work with Cortana: tipping point of awesome!
opinion piece, read accordingly.
That’s it, I’m calling it. The point at which the Bot Framework starts working with Cortana will (I think) be the tipping point for this technology, and we’ll start to see real take-up from developers using it to produce voice-enabled bots to deliver their services and data.
It’s not that you can’t do this today: Cortana already has an API and you could produce a Cortana skill to expose your data or service. But it’s the ease of development and distribution that the Bot Framework provides that will (in my opinion) make a real difference. The “write-once, deploy anywhere” mechanism that the Bot Framework gives you is really appealing to developers who don’t want to have to write specific connectors for different services. A single-pane-of-glass dashboard that will allow you to control access to different platforms and abstracted plumbing of how those services actually work: that’s really useful.
In a throwaway comment on a blog post about something different, the Bot Framework team said that Cortana integration was coming “soon”. This ties in with the launch in December 2016 of the Cortana Skills Kit, which will “allow developers to leverage bots created with the Microsoft Bot Framework and publish them to Cortana as a new skill”. Joining these two things together and allowing it to be a simple “add channel” function on the Bot Framework dashboard will be huge: making it trivial for developers to take their existing Bot Framework projects and have them work on Cortana.
Fundamentally even though technologies such as AI, voice recognition and voice delivery are going to be a really important part of technology in the next 5 years developers don’t necessarily have the time or inclination right now to invest in learning them. Anything that takes away the requirement to learn new domain constructs and allows them to use the code and tools they have today will go down well. By attempting to abstract the complicated new technology such as connecting to multiple services, AI and voice Microsoft are positioning themselves in an excellent place to appeal to the mass-market of developers who just want to get the job done.
When I can take my Bot Framework project, click a few buttons and have it work in Cortana, that will be the time when there’s no doubt for me that the Bot Framework is going to be a hugely important part of how we deliver information and services in the next few years.