Microsoft Launches Skype Bots for Web and Mac

Three weeks after releasing previews of Skype bots for Android, iOS and Windows desktop, Microsoft has now come out with versions for Mac and the Web. Microsoft is just one of many tech companies working to rapidly advance the adoption of bot technology these days.

Ever since Facebook unveiled its bot ambitions at its F8 developer conference earlier this month, it seems that news about these intelligent interfaces is coming from every direction.

On Monday, for example, Telegram co-founder and CEO Pavel Durov announced his company would begin offering grants to developers of $25,000 and up -- total funding is $1 million -- to create fast and useful interfaces using Telegram's Bot API.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is billing its latest bots as "a new way to bring expertise, products, services and entertainment into your daily messaging on Skype."

Successor to Apps and Search?

Bots and chatbots have been described as the next technology to replace apps or even search functions like Google's. A fast-growing number of companies are adopting the use of bots to help them provide faster, more conversational and automated help and information to their users and customers.

Restaurant Brands International, for instance, plans to tap into Facebook's new Messenger platform to create bots enabling customers to order food at its Burger King and Tim Hortons franchises.

In the meantime, Microsoft's Skype is previewing a few bot personalities, including Murphy, which can find and create images to respond to questions that "can't be answered by words alone," and Summarize, a bot that can describe the gist of a Web page for users who don't have time to read it all themselves. The preview bots are currently available in the U.S., as well as Australia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore.

Some Concerns about Bot Potential

Microsoft is also inviting developers...

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