In February of 2017, Microsoft released Cortana Skills into private preview program with promises that the public preview would commence shortly after. That never transpired and many developers and customers thought the company had possibly lost interest or been distracted by other product releases like it does occasionally.
During BUILD 2017 Day 1, Microsoft announced that the Cortana Skills Kit is now available for public preview…
Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview in the U.S. Developers can build skills for Cortana by creating a bot and publishing to the Cortana channel of the Microsoft Bot Framework. This is available across Windows 10, Android, iOS and the new Cortana-powered Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.
Of course, the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker is not set to ship until the fall, but making the kit available across Windows 10, Android, and iOS should generate some interest as Amazon’s Alexa is reported to gain about 70% of this market this year. Amazon recently reported that it has now sold 10 million of its Alexa-powered devices. Microsoft, on the other hand, has over 500 million computers running Windows 10 which comes with Cortana.
Of course, the Cortana thing could be interesting as Microsoft has been through platform integration legal troubles before. With the voice-assisted AI industry heating up, Microsoft could quickly make gains – which brings to mind the browser wars in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
At launch, Cortana now has a little over 20 third-party skills including: iHeartRadio, TuneIn, StubHub, OpenTable, Uber, Food Network, WebMD, Ask My Buddy, HP, The Motley Fool, Akinator, Bartender, MovieTickets.com, Tact, Skyscanner, and UPS, Fresh Digital, Gigseekr, Gupshup, Patron, Porch, Razorfish, StarFish Mint, Pylon, BigOven, CityFalcon, Dark Sky, and Elokence.
To put this into perspective, Google Assistant has over 230 third-party actions, while Amazon’s Alexa has over 10,000.
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